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Chris Murphy, Published October 06 2012

Bison volleyball tops UMKC at home

FARGO – The North Dakota State volleyball team knows time is running out.

The Bison played with a sense of urgency Saturday, knocking off the University of Missouri-Kansas City 25-16, 25-20, 27-29, 25-21.

It’s the halfway mark of the season, and a spot in the Summit League championships at the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse in November is going to require some work. The Bison began Saturday’s match in sixth place, with the top four in the conference making the tournament. The home-cooking is just what the Bison ordered, as Saturday’s victory made it back-to-back wins to start the five-game homestand.

“We aren’t where we want to be right now, and we know where we could be,” NDSU outside hitter Brynn Joki said. “Getting these wins against top conference teams shows us we can do it.”

Set 1 was a battle, with ties at 11, 13, and 15 before NDSU (7-11, 4-4) went on a 10-1 run to close out the set led by an ace for Brynn Joki, a kill each from Carissa Whalen and Jenni Fassbender, and two kills from Megan Lambertson.

“This homestand is huge for us,” Lambertson said. “I think we’re clicking now, we’re all on the same page and everyone is putting out the same effort, and we all know how to bring each other up. I would rather play the intense nail-biter against a good team than crush a team.”

NDSU never trailed in Set 2, but it was far from an easy victory. The Bison led by as much as 20-9, and it seemed as though victory was a forgone conclusion when they took a 24-15, but UMKC (12-8, 5-3) would not go away. The Kangaroos went on a 5-0 run before Fassbender slammed home a kill to put a stamp on Set 2.

It was déjà vu in the third set, except this time NDSU was unable to hold UMKC, as the Bison watched a 24-20 lead turn into a 29-27 loss.

The Bison had match point before two kills by Jessica Hayden, a sideout, and a kill by Chloe Jarema made it 24-24. A sideout for UMKC made it 25-24 Kangaroos, but the Bison got a sideout of their own to stay alive. A kill by Joki made it 26-25 Bison, but a service error tied it up and a Skyler Muff kill and a Hendin ace later and the Kangaroos lived to see another set.

“The third set is kind of what we’d been doing earlier in the season,” NDSU coach Kari Thompson said. “We played tentative and tight and didn’t want to go after plays, but we came back in Set 4. When you get those big points, those big sets and those big games, you start to build confidence, and that’s what we’re doing. They are starting to go our way.”

The fourth set had ties at 14, 15, 16 and 17 before a sideout from UMKC made it 18-17 and an ace from Lambertson made it 19-17, and the Bison never looked back.

“We have a lot more confidence in ourselves,” Joki said. “We gave them a little too much in the third set and let them back in it, but our confidence is going to skyrocket and our mental toughness has gotten really good.”

UMKC (kills-blocks-aces): Hagedorn 14-3-0, Wemhoff 0-0-2 (28 assists), Lucas 14-2-1 (11 digs), Hendin 9-1-1 (16 digs), Muff 13-3-0, Jarema 1-2-0, Miller 0-0-1 (26 digs), Meier1-1-0 (17 assists).

NDSU: Yager 2-2-2 (39 assists, 13digs), Dombeck 0-0-0 (10 digs), Joki 17-5-1 (19 digs), Lambertson 12-3-2, Cammack 4-3-1 (10 digs), Whalen 6-6-0, Henning 0-0-0 (19 digs), Fassbender 6-2-0.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548