ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota-Duluth defeated Central Missouri on Thursday in the first-round action of the Division II women’s volleyball tournament. The Bulldogs refused to go home empty handed, completing a 3-2 (25-18, 24-26, 21-25, 25-18, 15-6) come-from-behind win against the Jennies on a Kate Lange kill in the fifth set to advance to Friday’s semifinal.
A relatively inexperienced UMD club sputtered out of the gates, allowing Central Missouri to jump out to a 5-0 lead in the opening frame. Following a timeout by head coach Jim Boos, the Bulldogs climbed back into the game and ultimately pulled ahead for the first time when a kill by Mariah Scharf created a 13-12 UMD lead. The two teams traded punches until the Bulldogs broke a 20-18 score and ran away with the set on a 5-0 run. The second took a complete turn, and UMD let the game slip after holding an edge on the scoreboard for the majority of the set.
UMD attacked at a sub .200 clip in both the third and fourth sets (.133 and .156, respectively), but forced Central Missouri into struggles on the attack in the fourth game, creating a winner-take-all fifth set.
UMD jumped out to a 3-0 lead, forcing Central Missouri to call a timeout. UMD took six of the next eight points to take a 9-2 advantage and force another Jennie timeout. Central Missouri was able to garner a bit of momentum, but the lead proved to be insurmountable. Lange sealed the match with a powerful shot from the left side — her third successive swing during the same flurry, sending the Jennies home with an overall record of 26-7.
Lange, who has now reached double figures in kills in 66 consecutive matches, scooped 14 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. She added a pair of service aces and two total blocks to her credit in helping UMD improve to 29-4. Senior middle blocker Kalli Lochner posted 12 kills and four total blocks, while sophomore right side hitter Maddie Siroin clubbed 10 kills as the only other Bulldogs to end up in double figures. Freshman setter Ashley Hinsch dished out 59 assists in guiding UMD to a collective .255 attack percentage.
The Bulldogs will play Concordia-St. Paul in Round 2.