MARSHALL, Minn. – In a battle of the top-two teams and with the NSIC regular-season title on the line, second-ranked Concordia-St. Paul swept No. 1 Southwest Minnesota State by scores of 25-18, 25-21 and 25-19 to capture its 10th consecutive league regular season championship. The Golden Bears share the title with SMSU and Minnesota Duluth, which all went 18-2 in the NSIC. CU improves to 24-3 overall, while the Mustangs drop to 26-2.
Two errors by the Mustangs to start the match gave the Bears the lead for the rest of the set. SMSU came within one point of tying the score twice (7-6, 8-7), but a 7-to-2 run to close the set earned CU the victory. The Bears went 19-for-34, including three errors on the attack for a .471 percentage.
Concordia opened the second set with the same intensity, gaining a 4-0 lead to force a Mustang timeout. The home team came out of the break and answered by going on a 10-to-5 spree to lead 10-9. The lead didn’t last long as the Bears ensued with five of the next six points and held on for a 25-21 win.
Southwest Minnesota State got its largest lead of the match early in the third frame at 7-4, but once again the Golden Bears erased the deficit with a 10-to-6 run to take a 14-13 lead. SMSU tied the score three more times until CU took nine of the last 12 points to secure the match.
Kayla Koenecke and Ashley Murtha led Concordia with 13 kills each. Koenecke didn’t commit an error for the second match in a row and fifth time this season, going 13-for-24 on the attack for a .542 clip. Murtha tallied a .346 percentage (13-4-28) along with eight digs and two block assists.
Amanda Konetchy was one dig shy of her eighth double-double, posting 46 assists and nine digs. Taylor Dordan led the team with 18 digs for the second match in a row.
As a team, Concordia hit .381 (50-10-105) and limited the Mustangs to a .176 rate (39-17-125). Mary Groth led SMSU with 12 kills and a .476 percentage.