GRAND FORKS, N.D.-- Host North Dakota swept Southern Utah 25-19, 25-20, 25-19 in front of 708 fans at Betty Engelstad Sioux Center Thursday night in a key Big Sky Conference affair. UND gained a leg up on the Thunderbirds as the teams came into the match tied for the sixth and final qualifying spot for the postseason league tournament.
UND (10-10, 5-4 Big Sky) was in control throughout as SUU (8-12, 4-5) never held a lead of more than one point in any of the three sets and its 7-6 lead in the final set was the latest advantage it held in any of the three sets. Coming off the momentum-building sweep at rival North Dakota State Tuesday, UND continued its roll, hitting .324 in Thursday's sweep.
The North Dakota tandem of Ellen Krueger and Ronni Munkeby exemplified the home team's effective attack from the middle, combining for 20 kills with just one error on only 31 swings (.613). Sophomore Lexi Robinson notched her 12th double-double of the season with a match-high 14 kills and 11 digs from the outside to complete the impressive win.
As was the formula Tuesday, UND got out to a good start and rode the lead throughout. North Dakota jumped out to a 12-6 lead and later led 15-8 to force a Thunderbird timeout. SUU got it within two points at 19-17, but Lisa Parlich and Nikki Husfeldt were in on a block then later a pair of Munkeby kills and two Felicia Ulrich service aces ended it, 25-19.
SUU took its first lead of the match early in the second set, but it was short-lived as five straight points and seven of the next eight went to UND to keep North Dakota in front. The T'Birds did re-tie the score at 19-all but never got over the hump as four consecutive attack errors (including two UND blocks) helped North Dakota record the win, 25-20. Krueger totaled a half-dozen of her 10 kills in that set alone.
In the final frame, the score was tied seven times and the lead changed hands twice before UND wrestled away control. Robinson rocketed a pair of kills during a stretch of four straight points to stretch a slim 12-11 UND lead into a 16-11 advantage. North Dakota would not look back from then on, as Robinson garnered three more of her match-high kill total, including the final point as UND earned the sweep with a 25-19 set-three victory.
Husfeldt added 38 assists in the win while Lauren Clarke chipped-in 11 digs for UND.
North Dakota (10-10, 5-4 Big Sky) hosts Northern Arizona on Saturday evening during Homecoming weekend. NAU comes into Thursday's action tied for third in the conference.