Wildcat volleyball season comes to an end

An online exclusive

Austin Svehla, Staff Writer

The Wildcats’ season concluded last Tuesday night as they were defeated in the first round of the NSIC Tournament by #3 seed Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall, Minnesota. The Wildcats finished with a 22-9 record overall on the season as the Mustangs advanced to the conference semifinals with a 22-7 record.

SMSU defeated the Wildcats by way of a 3-0 sweep (25-17, 28-26, 25-21). The first set was close early, as WSC grabbed their first lead of the set at 8-7. The ’Cats trailed 13-12 later in the set when the Mustangs reeled off seven straight points for a commanding 20-12 lead. The deficit proved too much for the Wildcats as they dropped the first set 25-17.

“They have who will be the three-time defending National Player of the Year on their side,” Kneifl said. “That makes a difference.”

The second set saw a back-and-forth battle as there were 13 ties and five lead changes. WSC gained a 9-8 advantage early in the set, but the Mustangs went on a 5-0 scoring run to take a 13-9 lead. The ’Cats responded with a 5-0 run of their own to regain the lead at 14-13. After the Wildcats gained a 20-19 lead, SMSU pulled off another 5-0 run to come within set point. WSC responded yet again with another 5-0 run to pull within a point of evening the match at one set apiece. However, with the score knotted at 26-26, SMSU took advantage of a Wildcat service error and proceeded to finish the set with a kill from Angela Young to win the second set 28-26.

The third set began with both teams exchanging points, as WSC’s last lead came at 10-9 following a kill from Beller. With the set tied at 13-13, SMSU managed to score six of the next seven points to gain a 19-14 lead. The Wildcats climbed back to within 19-18, but another late Mustang scoring run was too much for WSC, as SMSU closed out the match with a 25-21 third-set victory.

Wildcat volleyball will graduate two seniors, starting setter Megan Gebhardt and middle hitter Maria Wortmann

“I think it’s been a phenomenal year,” Kneifl said. “We had a much more difficult conference schedule. Last year, overall, we were 19-11 and this year we were 22-9. Obviously, there were a couple games we wish we could get back that could have made a difference in us making the NCAA Tournament. Obviously, we can’t do that, but I’ve been extremely pleased with how our team has played this year.”