Augustana volleyball ends season with 3-1 loss

The Augustana volleyball team watched its season come to an end at the hands of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, falling 3-1 (20-25, 25-13, 24-26, 14-25) in the first round of the NSIC tournament. 

The Bulldogs were able to go on key runs to secure wins in sets three and four, which proved to be the deciding factor in the game. 

“The team played well today,” head coach Jennifer Jacobs said. “We just couldn’t quite finish it out. I’m proud of them for making the tournament.” 

The Bulldogs jumped to a commanding 8-2 lead in the first set when sophomore outside hitter Meredith Sutton sent a set from senior Emily Balts down the left sideline. Later, the Vikings were able to bring the score within one on a kill from junior middle Izzy Sommers. This brought the score to 21-20 UMD. 

After this UMD went on a 4-0 run to win the first set.  

The Vikings bounced back in the second set, jumping out to a 17-4 lead thanks to multiple attack and service errors from the Bulldogs. 

Augustana won the second set 25-13 to tie the game 1-1, ending the set with a kill from junior middle Abby Benson. 

“Going into the game we knew that it would be about who was in-system more,” sophomore outside hitter Grace Haberland said. “Our aggressive serving got Duluth out of system, which helped our blockers get touches on the ball.”  

The Vikings kept the momentum going, taking a 9-5 lead in the third set after freshman libero Erika Bute tipped the ball over the net between all six Bulldogs. The Vikings had control for seemingly the entire third set but were unable to capitalize as the Bulldogs forced extras and finished the set on 14-6 run to take a 2-1 lead. 

In the fourth and final set, the Vikings pulled within three on a Haberland kill to bring the score to 16-13 UMD, but the Bulldogs responded with a 9-1 run to take the final set 25-14. 

Sutton led the game with 17 kills, while junior right-side hitter Payton Rosendahl led the Vikings with 12. 

“I think what helped us when we came into this game was that we had the mindset that we had nothing to lose,” Rosendahl said. “We knew that if we gave it our all and played for our teammates that we would be happy of the outcome, win or lose.” 

As a team, the Vikings recorded 43 kills, 41 assists and 5 aces. Defensively, Augustana had 65 digs and 10 blocks. UMD ended with 59 kills, 58 assists and 6 aces. The Bulldogs had 84 digs on the day to go along with 6 blocks.

Balts led the game in assists with 48. Meanwhile, Augustana sophomore setter Avery Thorson had 36 assists and 4 kills. 

Thorson, a Sioux Falls native, eclipsed over 2,000 assists in her career in the game and earned second-team all NSIC honors for her 2019 season. 

Joining her on the NSIC second-team was freshman libero, Erika Bute, Bute recorded over 500 digs on the year. She was ranked as high as fifth in the nation in digs per set. Bute had 17 digs in the game. 

The Vikings secured the seven-seed in the NSIC tournament after going 20-9 (13-7 NSIC) on the year. On the season, they were led in kills by freshman outside hitter Maddy Guetter at 288 and Haberland at 232. 

“Overall, it was a good season and I’m proud of the way we battled at the end of the year,” Jacobs said. “This team has a high ceiling and I am looking forward to the continued work with them.”

Augustana will be losing only two seniors next year, setter Jessica Simon and outside hitter Sophia Terwilleger. The two have paired up to win 70 games in their four years at Augustana. 

“Each year they welcomed new teammates and made them part of our family,” Rosendahl said. “A big focus in our volleyball program is the relationships we make with our teammates/coaches and I think our senior did a great job.” 

The Bulldogs will move on to the second round of the NSIC tournament to face off against the winner of Concordia St. Paul/Winona State at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon.


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