ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Saint Benedict is in the second round of the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season after its 3-0 first-round win against Cornell (Iowa) on Thursday.
The Blazers (27-3) took the first two sets 25-16, including seven consecutive points to close out the second. Then in the third, they completed the sweep with a 25-17 win, handing Cornell (28-4) its first loss since September, ending the Rams' 16-match winning streak.
The seven in a row to close the second was the trend of the day for the Blazers, as they consistently strung points together late in sets to put away the Rams away, breaking open near-tie scores and eliminating any potential comebacks. The Blazers went on an 8-2 run late in the third to turn a two-point lead into an eight-point edge, before closing with a 4-1 stretch for the win. They also started the day with a 4-1 run to close out the win in the first.
On the same note, they were able to recover equally as well from the few errors they did make. Cornell took the first two points of the match, but the Blazers responded with a 7-1 run to take a 7-3 lead and would never trail again in the set.
In the second, they trailed 5-2 early, but ran off a 10-2 run and would not trail again all day.
The Blazers were led offensively by Lexi Alm and Mary Franz, who finished with 10 and nine kills, respectively, with Franz posting a hitting percentage of .562, the second-best of her career. Alm became just the fifth player in program history to surpass the 1,300 career kills mark in the championship match of the MIAC tournament, and now has 1,312 in her career.
Taya Kockelman set the Blazers to a .246 mark at the net, while racking up 36 assists on the day, pushing her average back toward the 12.0 assists per set mark. In the back row, Chelsea Rachel, Victoria Nass and Kockelman all posted at least 14 digs.
The Blazers finished with 66 digs on the night, the ninth-best mark of the season, and third-best in a three-set match.
The Blazers advance to meet Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday.