Wildcats take care of Augustana in straight sets

Senior setter Megan Gebhardt became the fifth player in school history to reach 3,000 career set assists and Alyssa Ballenger posted a career-high 15 kills to power Wayne State College to a 25-16, 25-23, 25-20 sweep Tuesday evening over Augustana  on Pack the House/Black Out Night at Rice Auditorium.

Ballenger and Katie Stephens were the go-to hitters for the Wildcats in the first set. Wayne State snapped a 5-5 tie with a Ballenger kills, back-to-back kills from Stephens followed by a Tarrin Bellar kill to take a 10-6 lead and force an Augustana timeout. The Wildcats extended the lead to 19-12 and finished the first set with 16 kills and a .325 attack percentage to take the first set.

The second set was a close battle with 14 ties and six lead changes. Neither team led by more than two points until Wayne State scored four straight to erase a 18-17 deficit and take a 21-18 lead following two straight kills from Stephens to force a Viking timeout. Augustana rallied to tie the set before the Wildcats got a kill by Ballenger and an Augustana ball handling error on set point to take the two-set advantage.

After giving up the first point, Wayne State got back in front and after the set was tied at 9-9, used an Augustana attack error followed by two straight kills from Maddie Knobbe and another by Beller to take a 13-9 lead. Wayne State extended the lead to 17-11 after kills from Ballenger and Jaci Brahmer. Augustana got as close as three before Wayne State closed the night with an Augustana serving error to sweep the match.

Wayne State finished the night hitting .295 on 45 kills with just six errors on 132 attacks.  Augustana posted a .221 attack percentage with 45 kills on 15 errors and 136 attacks.  The Vikings had 10 more digs than WSC, 73-63, but the Wildcats held a 7-3 advantage in blocks and 5-2 in service aces.

Gebhardt posted her third double-double of the season with 32 assists and 13 digs and became the fifth player in school history to record 3,000 career assists (3,001). Ballenger added a career-high 15 kills with a .394 attack percentage. Stephens also reached double digits in kills with 11.

Haley Kauth accounted for 15 digs while Maddie Duffy had two service aces. Beller paced Wayne State in blocks with four followed by Brahmer and Knobbe with three apiece.

The Wildcats, (16-5, 8-4 NSIC) will be on the road this weekend, visiting second-ranked Northern State Friday night at 6 p.m. and MSU Moorhead Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Wayne Herald

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