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Eric Peterson, Published November 11 2011

No. 7-ranked Cobbers survive scare, outlast Wisconsin-Stevens Point in five sets

MOORHEAD – Jenna Green wouldn’t let doubt creep into her mind, even when it appeared her career could be ending.

Green had five kills in the fifth set Friday at Memorial Auditorium. Her clutch play late helped No. 7-ranked Concordia rally for 25-11, 15-25, 25-13, 18-25, 16-14 victory against Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the first round of the NCAA Division III volleyball tournament.

“I just felt confident in everything that we were doing,” said Green, who finished with 13 kills and 17 digs. “I had confidence in every single one of my teammates. I had no doubt that we weren’t going to win that (final set).”

The Cobbers rallied from 6-3, 7-4 and 12-10 deficits in the deciding fifth set to earn a dramatic victory in front of a raucous crowd, estimated at 784 fans.

“When we were down, I was like, ‘OK, we cannot lose this.’ It made me kind of nervous, but at the same time I knew we could do it. … I had faith in us,” said Cobbers senior middle hitter Katie Vohnoutka, who finished with a team-high 16 kills.

The Cobbers (26-3) play Bethel (23-9) at 6 p.m. today in the semifinals of the Moorhead regional. Concordia has won 14 consecutive matches. Its last loss was at Bethel in five sets on Sept. 21. The Cobbers are 11-0 at home this season and have won 20 home matches in a row.

“It was an awesome match to be able to come here and be the underdog and play as hard as we played,” said Stevens Point head coach Stacey White. “I felt that our team really played well.”

Stevens Point built a 7-4 lead in the fifth set after a Concordia service error. That’s when Green caught fire. She answered with a thunderous kill that sparked a string of four consecutive Concordia points. A Stevens Points error gave the Cobbers an 8-7 lead.

“We just talked about using our energy and playing confidently,” Green said. “I think we really stepped up that fifth game and took that on the court.”

The Pointers, however, didn’t fade. They rallied for a 12-10 lead after a Concordia hitting error.

“I was pumped,” said Pointers junior hitter Christina Brinkman, who had 13 kills. “I thought we were going to win. It was a bummer.”

The Cobbers, however, answered with three consecutive points, including kills from senior middle hitter Ashley Beseman and sophomore outside hitter Brooke Tastad. Tastad’s kill gave Concordia a 13-12 lead.

After the Pointers fought off one match point, the Cobbers took a 15-14 lead on a Vohnoutka kill. That set the stage for the match-clinching point. Green ripped a kill off a block that set off a spirited Concordia celebration on the court.

“I was so excited myself,” Vohnoutka said. “I know we all grabbed each other and started yelling at each other that we won that match. It was huge.”

UW-STEVENS POINT (kills-blocks-aces): Davis 4-5-0, Bartowiak 11-3-1, Rau 16-2-0, Hartman 7-0-0 (39 assists), Brinkman 13-0-0, Ramsfield 0-0-0, Groth 0-0-1 (19 digs), Wildish 0-1-1, Kohlhagen 1-0-0, Breuer 2-0-0.

CONCORDIA: Green 13-0-4, Vohnoutka 16-2-0, Sykora 5-2-1 (44 assists), Reed 9-1-0, Beseman 8-2-0, Bruggeman 3-0-0, Loomis 0-0-0, Tastad 2-0-0, Wiinanen 0-0-1 (20 digs).

Other Friday first-round matches

St. Scholastica def. St. Benedict 25-23, 18-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-9

St. Thomas def. Wisconsin-Eau Claire 25-18, 25-17, 25-21

Bethel def. Northwestern (Minn.) 26-24, 25-21, 25-21

Moorhead regional semifinals today

St. Scholastica (27-6) vs. St. Thomas (30-4), 3:30 p.m.

Concordia (26-3) vs. Bethel (23-9), 6 p.m.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com