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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published September 30 2013

UND breezes past Bison in volleyball

GRAND FORKS – Asked to gauge the atmosphere Monday night, University of North Dakota hitter Anna Pioske said she’s never seen anything like it.

Pioske’s comments aren’t based on her freshman inexperience. Young or old, not many have seen a volleyball crowd like the one that came out for the North Dakota-North Dakota State rivalry.

In front of a state-record crowd of 2,688 fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, UND routed NDSU 25-19, 25-16 and 25-15. The match lasted all of 1 hour, 18 minutes.

UND won the matchup for the third straight time, a streak that includes two straight sweeps.

“It’s one thing to walk out for a conference game,” UND senior Ronni Munkeby said. “But to walk out for this game was incredible. The support we had tonight was unreal.”

UND (9-7 overall, 4-0 Big Sky) dominated the Bison (1-13 overall, 1-0 Summit) by hitting .500 with just five errors.

“We did a fantastic job. I’m not sure if that’s a good enough of a word to describe it,” UND coach Ashley Hardee said. “The crowd was great. People started filing in 30 minutes before the game. You could sense it was going to be pretty special.”

With the sweep of the Bison, UND has now won five in a row and eight of its last nine matches.

Pioske, of Waconia, Minn., led all players with 15 kills, while Munkeby added 13 and Lexi Robinson had 10. UND setter Nikki Husfeldt handed out 44 assists, while Lauren Clarke led North Dakota defensively with 15 digs.

Lisa Parlich added eight kills. Munkeby and Parlich did the extensive damage without registering an error.

“That’s what you expect from your seniors,” Hardee said.

Pioske said she was taught about the rivalry quickly this week.

“All week on campus people were talking about it,” she said. “I was getting texts and calls from everyone. People couldn’t wait to watch it.”

The Bison were led by eight kills each from Hadley Steffen and Emily Miron. Steffen, a freshman and Grand Forks native, matched her season-high with the eight kills. She hit a team-best .467 for the match.

UND leads the series with the Bison 3-1 in the Division I era. NDSU leads the all-time series 69-7 since 1976.

“I grew up with this rivalry in my backyard,” said Munkeby, a Lisbon, N.D., native. “It’s nice to have some bragging rights.”

UND returns to Big Sky Conference play this weekend, heading to Sacramento State on Saturday and Northern Colorado next Monday.

NDSU (kills-blocks-aces): Minnick 7-0-0, Claxton 1-0-0 (32 assists), Miron 8-1-0, Fassbender 7-0-1, DeGagne 2-0-0, Dombeck 0-0-0 (11 digs), Steffen 8-0-0, Cammack 2-0-0.

UND: Thompson 3-2-0, Pioske 15-1-0, Husfeldt 2-1-2 (44 assists), Robinson 10-1-1, Munkeby 13-2-0, Parlich 8-2-0, Clarke 0-0-1 (15 digs), Asche 1-0-0, Fontes 0-1-0.

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald