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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 26 2012

NDSU rally falls short in fifth set, loses to Fort Wayne in college volleyball

FARGO – The home court isn’t as haunting for visiting teams as it once was at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse. But at least North Dakota State found some optimism, even in defeat, that the building will not be a ghost town for the Summit League tournament next month.

The top four teams make the postseason event. Friday night, the Bison made a horse race of it, playing some of their most inspired volleyball of the season before falling at the wire. First place Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne improved to

21-4 overall and 10-2 in the league with a 25-19, 25-21, 22-25, 18-25, 15-12 victory.

“That was the volleyball we’ve been expecting all season,” said NDSU head coach Kari Thompson. “Hopefully we reached a breaking point of playing with passion and energy on every point.”

Still, it was NDSU’s fourth loss in eight home matches and dropped it to 10-14 overall. More important, NDSU is 6-6 in the Summit with four conference games to play.

Fort Wayne and Indiana Purdue-Indianapolis are in solid position with two and three losses, respectively. After that, Missouri-Kansas City, South Dakota State, Oakland University and NDSU all have either five or six defeats.

The good news for the Bison is they still control their fate. They host Oakland tonight, play at Kansas City and South Dakota and finish the league slate hosting SDSU on Nov. 9.

This Fort Wayne tussle wasn’t decided until Jessie Manwaring’s shot crawled over the net and sent the Mastodons celebrating. No more than two points separated the teams the entire fifth set.

By then, NDSU’s ordinary first two sets were forgotten.

“We created our own energy,” said Bison middle hitter Megan Lambertson. “Once we start playing the way we can play, people catch on to that. It’s contagious.”

It was contagious for setter Emily Riese, who was inserted into the lineup in Set 3 and finished with 34 assists. Her performance at least gave Thompson something to think about as far as her lineup.

“Emily adds that spark for us,” she said. “We have options. Emily played great and ran the offense well.”

Lambertson was solid finishing with 13 kills and 10 blocks. Brynn Joki led with 15 kills and Jenni Fassbender had 13.

But Fort Wayne had the star in hitter Emily Spencer, who finished with 20 kills and 19 digs.

“That’s our rivalry team, that’s the team we want to beat,” Lambertson said.

IPFW (21-4, 10-2 SL)(kills-blocks-aces): Ripley 12 5-0, Spencer 20-2-2, Manwaring 13-4-0, Steenhuysen 1-0-0 (56 assists), Emenhiser 10-1-0, Wienkes 9-1-1, McGill 1-0-2, Dryden 0-0-0, Milligan 0-0-0.

NDSU (10-14, 6-6): Yager 0-0-0 (19 assists), Dombeck 8-4-1, Joki 15-3-2, Lambertson 13-10-1, Fassbender 14-1-1, Whalen 7-2-0, Henning 0-0-0 (19 digs), Listebarger 0-0-0, Riese 0-2-0 (34 assists).

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Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia