ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Wisconsin-Stevens Point stormed back from two sets down to defeat Wartburg in five sets in the opening round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday afternoon at Schoenecker Arena.
The win was the first NCAA tournament victory for Wisconsin-Stevens Point since the 1984 season. It was also the second time the Pointers (32-4) have defeated the Knights (26-12) in five sets after trailing by two sets this season.
In each of the first two sets, UWSP fell behind early and fought back to get within touching distance, but Wartburg managed to take both sets 25-21. The Knights hit a red-hot .429 in the first game and held the Pointers to .044 in the second.
UW-Stevens Point fell behind 19-14 in the third before getting to within 20-18. Then the Pointers caught fire, winning the final seven points of the set to force a fourth. The seven consecutive points came on Marie Krengel's serve as she tallied three aces in the run.
UW-Stevens Point led by as many as six at 16-10 in the fourth before Wartburg used a run of four consecutive points to level the score at 21. The Pointers responded by winning the final four points of the set to take the match the distance. Emma Brunkhorst had a pair of kills and a block at the tail end of the fourth set.
The decisive fifth set was tight early before the Knights took a 10-7 lead. Five points from defeat, the Pointers rattled off seven consecutive points to go up 14-10 and eventually closed it out 15-12 on a kill by Sarah Breuer. Like the end of the fourth set, Brunkhorst was the focal point for UWSP as she recorded three kills down the stretch to finish with 24 kills.
Brunkhorst hit .435 for the match and was in on seven blocks to lead UWSP. Krista Loos was second on the Pointers with 17 kills, while Alexis Hartman tallied 47 assists. Five UW-Stevens Point players were in double figures for digs, led by Hannah Picel with 26.
UW-Stevens Point advances to face St. Benedict (Minn.), which defeated Cornell 25-16, 25-16 and 25-17 in the first match of the day. The Blazers defeated the Pointers in three sets back on Aug. 30.