Bethel sweeps Northwestern (Minn.)
Royals pull away late in each set to reach second round
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- In a matchup of schools located less than three miles from one another, Bethel used late-set surges to sweep Northwestern (Minn.) 26-24, 25-21, 25-21 in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the Moorhead Regional on Friday.
The Royals were able to pull away from the Eagles late in every set to earn their 23rd win of the season. The opening set featured 14 tie scores and neither team had more than a two-point advantage through the entire 50-point contest.
That theme would play out for the entire match. The teams would stay close until a late-set rally by Bethel would give them the win. The Royals jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the second, but the Eagles came soaring back by winning six of the next nine points to tie the score at 7-7. The match would stay within one point until Bethel went on a 4-0 run to take a 17-13 lead. Northwestern never recovered from that mid-set surge and wound up losing by those four points.
The third set was once again close until the final 17 points. Leading 16-13, Bethel won the match on the strength of a 5-1 streak. Northwestern battled until the very end, getting to within three points at 24-21 before the Royals won on a service error.
Bethel (23-9) hit an impressive .300 for the three sets. They had a match-high .406 attack percentage in the second set. The Royals were led by Nicole Wriedt who had 13 kills and finished with a match-high .429 hitting percentage. Kate Smith came up with 31 assists and Valerie Smith added a team-high 16 digs.
Northwestern hit .205 in the game but also had eight service errors. Chelsea Koth hit .289 and had a team-high 16 kills. Greta King, who started her career at Concordia-Moorhead and wound up playing her first and last collegiate match in Memorial Auditorium, had 11 kills and 11 digs to post a double-double. Krista Stoltz had 37 assists and Lexi Bertsch amassed a team-high 16 digs.
Bethel advances to the Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2007. It will be their third overall trip to the second round of the NCAA tournament in school history. Northwestern finishes the year with a record of 27-7.