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Kevin Schnepf, Published September 12 2009

NDSU volleyball: Huge crowd cheers shutout

North Dakota State’s volleyball players better brace themselves. The always-outgoing Lauren McLaughlin has found a spot in the Bison rotation, which not only means plenty of kills, but even more cheerleading.

“That’s just my personality,” McLaughlin said. “I’m just a little more outgoing about it now that I’m contributing more.”

Before an overflow crowd of 1,579, McLaughlin contributed 16 kills, two blocks, four digs and plenty of cheerleading as the Bison rolled to a 25-18, 25-23, 25-16 win over Oral Roberts on Friday.

The Bison, picked to repeat as The Summit League champions, opened their home and conference seasons in style – much to the delight of a near-record Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse crowd.

The attendance fell short of the 1986 record of 2,259 when the Bison played Minnesota State Moorhead. But it surpasses the previous Bison Sports Arena high of 1,547 set in 2005 against Washington and another Bentson Bunker high of 1,478 set in 1988 against St. Cloud State.

“The crowd was great,” McLaughlin said.

And so was McLaughlin. The 5-foot-8 junior from Cary, Ill., sparked the Bison from a 17-16 first-set deficit with two kills and a block that pushed the lead to

22-17. With the Bison trailing 14-10 in the second set, McLaughlin’s tip and block sparked a seven-point run that gave the Bison a 17-14 lead.

“She is one of our go-tos,” said libero Kelly Lopez, one of two seniors on the Bison squad. “She has always brought that positive, loud, exciting energy. You can rely on her a lot.”

McLaughlin, who had a season-high 18 kills against Eastern Michigan last weekend, ended with a .500 hitting percentage.

“Those are big-time numbers,” said Bison head coach Erich Hinterstocker. “She has always been a spark for us in different situations. Now she’s got herself in the rotation. She was spectacular.”

So is NDSU’s run in The Summit League. Combined with three regular-season wins at the end of 2007 and last year’s perfect 16-0 record, the Bison now have a 20-match regular-season winning streak in The Summit.

Hinterstocker cited his team for producing five of its eight blocks in the first set, far surpassing its goal of a sideout percentage of 60 (the Bison were 73, 62 and 81 percent) and hitting .360 as a team. It helped the Bison improve to 5-2 overall and 1-0 in The Summit.

Those factors eventually wore down a young Oral Roberts team, picked to finish third in The Summit League. ORU fell to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in The Summit, suffering its fifth straight loss to the Bison.

“We kept pushing the pedal because we knew we had to wear them down,” Lopez said.

ORU (kills-blocks-aces): Cate 6-0-0, Gruber 13-1-1 (10 digs), Vieira 3-1-0 (31 assists), Swier 3-0-0, Rush 1-1-0, Holmes 0-0-0, O. Ophus 0-0-0, L. Ophus 0-0-0 (11 digs), Fredeen 8-0-0, McVicker 7-0-0, robb 0-0-0. Totals: 41-2-1.

NDSU (kills-blocks-aces): VandenBergh 6-1-0, J. Lopez 6-0-1 (10 assists, 10 digs), Deyler 4-4-1, McLaughlin 16-2-1, Knuth 8-1-0, Joki 1-2-0, K. Lopez 0-0-0 (11 digs), Perez 0-0-0, Johnson 1-2-2 (26 assists), Henning 0-0-0, Lambertson 2-0-0. Totals: 44-8-5.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549