1,000 career kills, a fifth set and a finished regular season


Photo By Tess Riecke

Two WSC volleyball players leap to block an incoming shot from Kearney in last Tuesday’s game.

Joseph Lovercheck, Staff Writer

The close of the Wildcat volleyball regular season came with triumph, trials and awards.

Courtney VanGroningen was named the NSIC Libero of the year. She led the NSIC in digs per set during conference play and was ranked third overall.

Three additional players were named to the NSIC all-conference first team: Leisa McClintock, Katie Hughes and Alyssa Frauendorfer.

Elizabeth Gebhardt was named to the all-conference second team.

“It means they have worked really hard,” coach Scott Kneifl said. “I’m sure all of those girls will tell you that they just want the team to win. They aren’t concerned about the awards. It’s nice that our team got recognized. They are all very deserving, and it’s nice for our program.”

During the final weekend of the regular season, the team went 1-1, beating Upper Iowa and losing to Winona State.

“We dropped a couple games,” Kneifl said. “Now everybody thinks we are struggling. We actually played really well this weekend.”

To begin the weekend, the ‘Cats traveled to Upper Iowa to take on the Peacocks on Friday. The Wildcats swept the match 3-0.

The first set was close for a while, until VanGroningen served for six straight points to give WSC a 16-8 lead. The ‘Cats won the set 25-16.

The second set was highlighted by 16 kills from the Wildcat offense, while only having one error during the set. The set ended with WSC winning 25-17.

During the third set, the ‘Cats trailed at 8-7 but used three big kills from Gebhardt and one from Michaela Mestl to take a 11-8 lead.  WSC completed the sweep with a 25-18 victory.

Gebhardt had 14 kills to lead the team, while McClintock led assists with 32.

The Wildcats traveled to Winona State to take on the Warriors on Saturday. This match marked the end of the regular season for the Wildcat volleyball team. The ‘Cats lost 3-2.

“Winona came out and played extremely well,” Kneifl said. “It was a great college volleyball game, back and forth battle, five sets on the road. It was a war. I was proud of the way our kids fought. Hats off to [Winona]. They are playing great right now.”

Frauendorfer eclipsed the 1,000 career kill mark, becoming just the 17th player in school history to reach that mark.

The Wildcats again started off strong offensively, having 18 kills in the first set, which helped them win 25-18.

The ‘Cats battled hard in the second, but ended up losing the set, 30-28. Neither team led by more than two points in the set, which consisted of 23 ties and 11 lead changes.

The Warriors disrupted the Wildcats’ offensive groove in the third, allowing just eight ‘Cat kills. Winona State won the set 25-19.

In the fourth set, WSC rallied from behind 18-15 to win the set 25-22, forcing a fifth set for just the second time this season.

The Warriors got out to an early 6-2 lead in the final set and never looked back. Winona State won 15-11.

Frauendorfer led the team with six blocks while also co-leading the team in kills with 16. Hughes and Mestl each posted double doubles in the match. Hughes had 15 kills and 26 digs, while Mestl had 16 kills and 24 digs. Also leading the team was Vangroningen in digs with 28 and McClintock with 58 assists.

“We are getting everybody’s best shot,” Kneifl said. “We are taking some body blows here and there. Now it’s time for us to punch back.”

The Wildcats ended the regular season 24-6 overall and 16-4 in NSIC play, earning them the fourth seed in the conference tournament.

The Wildcats will host Minnesota Duluth as part of the NSIC conference tournament first round today (Wednesday) at 7 p.m.

“It’s going to be super tough when you have two top ten teams playing each other in the first round of the conference tournament,” Kneifl said. “It just goes to show you the depth of our league. We were fortunate to beat Duluth at Duluth earlier in the year. Hopefully, we can get hot at the right time. Now is the right time to get going.”