LAS CRUCES, N.M.-- North Dakota made it six wins out of its first seven matches with a 3-1 victory over UNLV in the Spring Hill Suites Invitational hosted by New Mexico State Friday afternoon. Sophomore Ashley Brueggeman set a new career high with 13 kills in the win while seniors Tamara Merseli and Faith Dooley each registered five kills in the final set alone on their way to 14 and 12 kills, respectively.
"This was a good bounce back," UND head coach Mark Pryor said. "Even though we won last night, we still had some lessons we needed to learn. I think we are doing a better job of addressing those things."
The Fighting Hawks led wire-to-wire in the first set, jumping out to a quick 14-8 advantage and didn't commit their first attack error until midway through the set. UNLV got it back to within three at 18-15, but seven consecutive UND points gave North Dakota the opening set, 25-15. The Hawks hit .452 in the opening frame with 16 kills against just two errors.
In the second, the North Dakota defense shone bright as it combined for six blocks in that set, holding the Runnin' Rebels to a -.081 hitting percentage. UNLV (3-2) held a slim 14-12 edge until North Dakota ripped off 14 of the final 16 points to win the set, 25-16.
UNLV responded with a set three win, 25-22, by hitting .222 with 14 kills. But, UND had the killer instinct, finishing the job in the next stanza, 25-15. In that final frame, a 12-5 spurt midway through gave the Hawks the lead for good.
With her dozen kills, Dooley moved past Lexi Robinson into 13th place all-time at North Dakota for career kills (1,109). She trails Ronni Munkeby by just two kills for 12th all-time and is only 42 shy of cracking the top ten. Sydney Griffin narrowly missed out on a triple-double, tallying 41 assists, 14 digs and a career-best eight total blocks. Alivia Fraase had 15 digs while Teodora Tepavac notched 13 for North Dakota.
"We're now off to Texas for another match tonight," Pryor said. "This insanity doesn't stop until tomorrow night late, so we have to recharge, refuel, and focus our energies on our next opponent."
North Dakota draws Youngstown State tonight in the opener of the Glory Road Invitational hosted by UTEP. First serve from El Paso, Tex., is slated for 7:30 p.m. Central.
Notes: UNLV made the NCAA Tournament last season and was ranked 30th in the final RPI with a 24-8 overall record ... Brueggeman's previous high for kills was 12 (twice last season) ... Griffin now has three double-doubles on the season and has notched 40 assists or more in five of UND's seven matches (all wins).