Thrilling five-set win helps UND split on opening day
Courtesy: Mitch Wigness, UND Media Relations
"Losing to Auburn took an emotional toll on us, because we really believe we let one slip away," UND head coach Mark Pryor said. "We started out just going through the motions and that almost cost us a match. Once we decided to really commit to a defensive effort on the net and off, we controlled them for all of sets four and five. We committed three hitting errors total in the last three sets combined. That keeps you in matches. That's the stat that really tells the story."
ASU took the first set, 25-23, despite UND hitting .300 in the opening frame. The Red Wolves then took a 25-20 win in the second set to take what looked to be a stranglehold on the match. In the third, North Dakota jumped out to a 5-1 lead. The score would be tied on four different occasions down the stretch, but a kill from senior Lexi Robinson, one of her team-high 19, broke a 20-all score to give UND a lead it would not relinquish. That set was one of two in which UND did not commit a single attack error and hit .341 in that set alone.
The fourth set saw North Dakota go on a set-ending 7-1 run, forcing the Wolves into five attack errors of their own in that stretch, including a solo block by freshman Faith Dooley to wrap up a 25-18 victory. In the decider, sophomore Chelsea Moser's kill tied the score at 5-apiece part of a stretch that had her and Robinson racking up four straight points for an 8-5 UND advantage. With the score 13-9, Dooley finished for a kill then teamed with Robinson on a match-ending block to secure the win.
North Dakota hit an unreal .611 in that final set with 11 kills without an error on just 18 swings. Overall, UND outhit ASU .294 to .198 for the match. Robinson (19 kills, 13 digs) and Nikki Husfeldt (49 assists, 19 digs) each recorded double-doubles in the win. Julia Kaczorowska chipped in a doezn kills with just two errors for North Dakota.
In the morning's match, Auburn was able to grab a tight 25-23 first set en route to a 3-1 win in the season opener. North Dakota would win the second set quite easily, 25-18, but the Tigers countered with 25-19 and 25-22 wins in the next two sets.
"We had about four players put up the numbers for us to win this match," Pryor said. "Unfortunately, we needed six players to play well against an SEC team."
North Dakota was hampered by 12 attack errors in the opening set to hit .064. The hitting percentage skyrocketed after the second set as UND collected 18 kills on just two errors to tie the match. Auburn only outhit North Dakota .164 to .143, but it was enough to help the Tigers to the win in the season opener for both teams.
Robinson led the offense with 16 kills while Moser added 14 kills. Junior McKenzie Hart had a career-high 29 digs for UND.
UND finishes the GW Invitational Saturday with a 2:00 p.m. match against the host Colonials.