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Eric Peterson, Published November 13 2011

Undesirable ending for Cobbers volleyball

MOORHEAD – Concordia’s dream season ended abruptly Sunday at Memorial Auditorium.

St. Thomas freshman Kelly Foley cracked 14 kills to spark the No. 11-ranked Tommies to a 25-18, 25-19, 25-19 victory against the No. 7-ranked Cobbers for the Moorhead regional championship of the NCAA Division III volleyball tournament before an estimated 1,020 fans.

“We had an off game and it wasn’t exactly the night we wanted to be off, but it happened,” said Cobbers senior outside hitter Jenna Green, who had team highs with eight kills and 18 digs.

The Cobbers (27-4) had their 15-match winning streak snapped. They hadn’t lost since Sept. 21. Concordia also had a 21-match home winning streak snapped, a streak that started in 2009.

“We can’t complain about our season,” Green said. “We had 27 wins. We checked off a lot of goals off our white board downstairs. We couldn’t get the last one.”

St. Thomas (32-4) advanced to the Elite 8 with the victory. The Cobbers had beaten the Tommies in their two previous meetings this season.

“It just seemed that the momentum always stayed on our side and we were able to capitalize on that,” Tommies head coach Thanh Pham said.

Green and fellow seniors – setter Ashley Sykora and middle hitters Katie Vohnoutka and Ashley Beseman – played the final matches of their successful careers. The four also placed second in an NCAA regional as freshmen, one match short of the Elite 8.

“I’m fighting back tears right now,” said Green as her voice started to crackle. “We’ve worked so hard to get to this point and we just wanted to get above it and get beyond to get to that Elite 8. It didn’t happen tonight.”

Green and Vohnoutka finished their careers with more than 1,000 kills, and Green had more than 1,000 career digs. Sykora ended her second on the school’s all-time assist list.

“These four seniors have really set the bar high for Concordia volleyball,” Cobbers head coach Tim Mosser said. “They brought us back to the Top 10, which was amazing.”

The Cobbers never found their stride Sunday.

The Tommies strung together five consecutive points in the first set to build a 16-9 lead. That surge catapulted St. Thomas to a 25-18 win. In the second set, the St. Thomas had critical 7-2 run to build a 17-12 lead that led to a 25-19 victory. Foley closed out the second set with a kill.

“We knew that a strong start was going to be the key to this match because Concordia is a really good team and there is not a lot you can do to get them down,” said St. Thomas senior setter Ashley Maher. “We knew that we had to come out strong right away and execute.”

The Tommies used that early momentum to fuel a strong start in the third set. St. Thomas raced to a 14-5 lead after a kill from freshman outside hitter Jill Greenfield. St. Thomas scored match point on a Concordia hitting error.

“It was extremely frustrating,” Green said. “They just kept pushing us and pushing us and we couldn’t respond tonight.”

Mosser agreed.

“Every time we started coming back in, they came up with a play and shut the door,” Mosser said. “That was pure and simple how I saw the match.”

ST. THOMAS (kills-blocks-aces): Maher 0-0-1 (33 assists), Greenfield 9-1-3 (12 kills), Foley 14-0-0, Brimeyer 7-0-0, Peters 5-1-0, Cross 6-1-0, Wachter 0-0-0, Nass 0-0-0, Potts 0-0-0, Piechowski 0-0-0, Johnson 0-0-0.

CONCORDIA: Green 8-0-1 (18 digs), Vohnoutka 7-2-0, Sykora 4-0-0 (23 assists), Reed 1-1-0, Beseman 5-3-0, Bruggeman 3-0-0, Loomis 0-0-2, Hampton 0-0-0, Tastad 4-0-0, Wiinanen 0-0-0 (8 digs), Ross 1-0-0.

All-Moorhead regional tournament team

Nicole Wriedt, Bethel

Nikki Hughes, St. Scholastica

Jenna Green, Concordia

Ashley Beseman, Concordia

Ashley Maher, St. Thomas

Kelly Foley, St. Thomas

Paige Brimeyer, St. Thomas

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