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Chris Murphy, Published September 10 2013

Moorhead volleyball sweeps D-G-F to end two-match skid

MOORHEAD – After getting swept in back-to-back matches, Moorhead was in dire need of not only a win, but proof the Spuds could withstand some pressure.

The Spuds got all the pressure they wanted, withstanding a barrage of Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton rallies to sweep the Rebels 26-24, 25-20, 25-22 Tuesday at Moorhead.

“We kind of have a past of not being able to finish, so holding them was huge,” said Moorhead middle hitter April Johnson, who finished with nine kills and three blocks. “We really needed this one. We wanted it, not just for the win, but because D-G-F is our rival.”

Moorhead (2-2) led 21-16 in Set 1, but – sparked by two kills from Caitlin Ash – D-G-F (3-4) went on a 6-0 run to take a 22-21 lead. The Spuds answered with a 5-2 run thanks to two kills from Johnson and another from Maddie Swanson to shut the door on the set.

“We gave them a few too many three-in-a-rows,” Moorhead coach Char Lien said. “At times, we let them back in, but they didn’t get to four or five or six in a row and that was the difference. We always know against D-G-F it was going to be about defense and we changed some things up in our back row.”

In Set 2, Moorhead was once again leading comfortably at 22-16, but D-G-F would not go quietly. Four side outs from the Spuds brought the Rebels to within 22-20, but a Rebel side out, a Johnson kill and a Olivia Ostlie kill gave the set to Moorhead.

It was deja vu all over again in Set 3 when Moorhead took a 24-18 lead only to see it whittled down to 24-22 thanks to two kills from Faith Anderson, a kill from Anna Smith and a dual block from Smith and Frannie Mercil for D-G-F. A service error gave Moorhead a 23-17 lead and one kill each from Alyssa LaFlamme and Emily Uglem gave the match to the Spuds.

“This was pretty big,” said LaFlamme, who, along with Uglem, led the match with 11 kills. “It felt like everyone had an on night and the ball was spreading all around.”

Amber Gunkel spread the wealth with her 38 assists for Moorhead. To go along with Uglem and LaFlamme’s 11 kills and Johnson’s nine kills, Ostlie added 10 kills.

“We knew we had to mix it up with our arsenal and not just have that one person we had to rely on,” Lien said. “For the most part, Amber was able to distribute the ball and get a wide variety of kills. It was good to see them rebound after a couple of tough losses.”

It’s been an up-and-down season for D-G-F, as they’ve either swept or been swept in all seven of their matches.

“They’ve looked good at times, but they have had a lot of errors,” D-G-F coach Tessa Tysver said. “The girls work really hard. They are young and learning and always putting in their best effort.”

D-G-F (kills-blocks-aces): Ash 5-2-0, Stickney 5-0-0, Anderson 7-1-0, Smith 5-0-0, Driscoll 0-0-1, Baker 0-0-1, Reno 0-0-1 (11 assists), Frink 0-0-0 (13 digs).

M: Gunkel 0-1-1 (38 assists), Johnson 9-3-0, Uglem 11-0-0, Swanson 2-0-1, Carney 1-4-0, Ostlie 10-0-1, Gulseth 0-0-1 (22 digs), LaFlamme 11-0-1.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548