GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- Behind a match-high 16 kills from junior Ronni Munkeby, host North Dakota rallied for a grueling five-set win (25-22, 18-25, 22-25, 25-13, 15-12) win over Weber State Saturday afternoon at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
On a night when its offense was sluggish and serve receive spotty through the middle portion of the match, UND (12-13, 7-7 Big Sky) turned to its junior co-captain to provide the spark needed. She answered, powering down three of her kills in the deciding set including the match-winner as North Dakota fended-off the upset from Weber State (8-17, 2-12 Big Sky).
Munkeby's efforts helped put away the visitors, who used solid service to gain a two-sets-to-one advantage. After the home team grabbed the first set, 25-22, WSU got UND back on its heels, scoring five of its final 13 points via service aces to garner a 25-18 win.
That momentum carried through to the third set as WSU took a quick 5-1 lead and made it hold up. UND did fight back to tie the score at 17-all, but the Wildcats scored three of the final four points in the set as the visitors positioned themselves for the upset bid.
That's when UND dug deep and scored seven straight points with Lauren Clarke serving for an 8-5 lead. North Dakota's margin would quickly grow to seven and a 7-2 run to end the set-- highlighted by back-to-back aces by Clarke to finish it-- seemed to awaken the UND offense.
The deciding set got off to a 5-all tie until Ellen Krueger killed a ball from the right side and then Lisa Parlich and Nikki Husfeldt teamed to block consecutive points for an 8-5 UND lead. A Munkeby kill coming out of a Weber State timeout gave North Dakota an 11-7 margin, but WSU closed to within one at 12-11. A service error and a block by Lexi Robinson and Munkeby put UND at match point where Munkeby finally closed the deal.
With the win, Weber State was handed a second five-set loss to North Dakota as UND also rallied from down 2-1 to win in Ogden, Utah back on Sept. 20. The win also kept UND in fifth place in the Big Sky standings with six matches to play remaining in contention for one of the six seeds that advance to the postseason league tournament.
Munkeby added six block assists to her stat total as UND managed just a .112 hitting clip for the match. Husfeldt recorded 46 assists and had four kills of her own to go along with four block assists in the win. Robinson had 10 kills with six apiece coming from Krueger, Felicia Ulrich and Parlich.
Rebecca Fuchs had 14 kills for Weber State, who hit just .025 as a team (-.041 over the final four sets combined).
UND will play four of its final six on the road and now prepares for a trip that starts Saturday at Sacramento State and culminates Mon., Nov. 5 at defending league champion Northern Colorado. The final homestand begins Nov. 8 against first-place Portland State.