WSC Volleyball wins comeback thriller against Upper Iowa

Photos by Evelyn Knox

William Barnard and Austin Svehla, Staff Writers

Wayne State volleyball went 1-1 this past weekend, defeating Upper Iowa in a gut-wrenching five-set match on Saturday after falling to Winona State in three sets on Friday.

The Wildcats came back from a 2-1 set difference to win the match against Upper Iowa on Saturday at Rice Auditorium. The ’Cats went five sets with the Peacocks in order to pull out the win.

Scores of the match were 25-20, 23-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-13. WSC is now 21-7 and 12-6 in conference play while UIU slips to 17-9 and 10-8 in NSIC matches.

Wayne State found themselves down 17-14 in the first set but rallied back to win 25-20. They lost both the second and third sets.

“We knew it was going to be a battle so [I] talked to them about how we just need to grind out points and really concentrate and win the long rallies,” head coach Scott Kneifl said. “Our effort in sets four and five I thought was outstanding.”

Sophomore Alyssa Ballenger had a career-high 17 kills to lead WSC, followed by Katie Stephens with 15. Haley Kauth was one dig shy of her career record with 35 total digs in he match.

“It was a total team effort, when you look at the stat sheet, it was pretty spread out,” Kneifl said. “Haley Kauth had just a phenomenal game; she injured her hand a week ago and you know, it is not in very good shape and she fought through that.”

The Wildcats were unable to stop the Winona State Warriors on Friday, losing the match 25-17, 25-21, 25-22 for the ‘Cats 7th loss of the season. A slow start cost WSC in the first set, as the Warriors were able to jump out to a 4-0 lead to force a Wildcat timeout. The Wildcats found their footing from there but were unable to dig themselves out of the early hole, dropping the first set 25-17.

The second set was back-and-forth as the Wildcats had their only lead of the set at 9-8. Both teams continued exchanging points, as the Warriors eventually broke through and took the second set 25-21.

The third set followed the same back-and-forth theme as the second, as Winona State was able to rattle off four straight points after the third set was knotted at 13 apiece. The Wildcats were able to rally within 23-22 but WSU scored the final points of the set to take the match 3-0.
Stephens led the Wildcats with nine kills on the match while Ballenger had six and Maddie Knobbe added five of her own.

Wayne State has locked themselves a spot in the postseason but still has two games left on the road which will determine seeding.

“We want to go out there and win, I mean that is our goal,” Kneifl said. “We want to step on the floor and win these next two games on the road. We want to go into the postseason hot.”

WSC will be on the road next weekend playing at Minnesota State Friday at 6 p.m. and #1 Concordia-St. Paul Saturday at 2 p.m.