Nov. 20, 2008

Courtesy of Minnesota Duluth Athletics

St. Paul, Minn. - Two weeks ago at Romano Gymnasium, it took the No. 15-ranked University of Minnesota Duluth volleyball team a hard-fought five games to knock off No. 24 Wayne State College.

It's now tournament time; and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference rivalry was just as close, as the Bulldogs prevailed in four games.

UMD (25-8 overall) used a vicious attack at the net in order to burry the Wildcats 3-1 (25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 25-22) in the opening round of the eight-team NCAA II Central Regional Tournament at the Gangelhoff Center on the campus of top-ranked Concordia-St. Paul.

In a match that went back-and-fourth all afternoon - including 25 ties and 10 lead changes - the No. 3 Bulldogs racked up more kills, assists and digs, while they recorded a higher hit percentage than No. 6 Wayne State.

UMD, who is making their seventh straight NCAA playoff appearance, came out of the gates quick as they opened up the match with a 7-2 advantage in route to winning game one. The Bulldogs did the same as they led game two 9-6 before taking game two. However, the Wildcats battled back to take game three, before UMD close out the match in the fourth.

Junior middle blocker Sarah Wyffels led the Bulldog attack as she racked up match-highs in both kills and hit percentage. The Marshall, Minn. native pounded home an eye-popping 21 kills in racking up a .400 hit percentage, while she added 14 digs and assisted on a team-leading three blocks in the playoff win.

Sophomore outside hitter Jamie Lakatos tallied 19 kills for a .341 hit percentage and assisted on a pair of blocks, while senior middle blocker Lindsey Clairmont collected 10 kills for a .269 hit percentage, as well as a team-high three block assists on the afternoon.

On her birthday, senior setter Katie Gangelhoff got just what she wished for, as she paced UMD with a match-leading 60 set assists - ten more than the Wildcats had as a team - while the South St. Paul, Minn. native recorded nine digs and a team-high three block assists in the postseason victory.

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Kuffel also contributed to the win as the native of Brookfield, Wis. posted nine kills and two block assists, while junior defensive specialist Rachel Jacobson dug 17 balls and sophomore outside hitter Brenda Hansen added 15.

With the quarterfinal victory, the Bulldogs increase their current win streak to five straight matches, as they now advance to the semifinal round Friday evening at 5:30 p.m., in which they will hit the hardwood against the winner of the match between No. 2 Southwest Minnesota State and No. 7 Metro State (Co.).