Wayne State junior middle hitter Tarrin Beller tied a single game school record with 13 blocks to help the 19th-ranked Wildcats rally for a 3-2 win at Sioux Falls Thursday evening in the Northern Sun Conference volleyball opener for both teams. Scores of the match were 25-16, 18-25, 16-25, 25-19 and 15-11. WSC is now 8-1 and 1-0 in the league while the Cougars drop to 5-4 and 0-1 in the NSIC.’
The Wildcats came out strong, forcing 11 attack errors on USF with four coming on blocks as the Wildcats cruised to a 25-16 first set victory. Alyssa Ballenger had three of Wayne State’s eight kills in the first set while Beller accounted for four blocks.
Momentum swung to the side of Sioux Falls in the second set as the Cougars recorded 18 kills and a .341 attack percentage, resulting in a 25-18 second set win. Sophomore Maddie Knobbe had three kills in six attempts for WSC.
USF continued their strong play in the third set, leading from start to finish in a 25-16 set win. Jaci Brahmer had a team-high four kills in the set as the Cougars produced 15 kills and just four errors for a .297 attack percentage in the set.
The Wildcats started quickly in the fourth set, taking a 5-1 lead following a Hope Carter service ace. USF rallied to knot the score at 8-8, but WSC used a Cougar attack error and Beller kill to take the lead for good at 10-8. The ‘Cats extended the lead to 13-9 to force a USF timeout. WSC sealed the set win with a block by Knobbe and Beller, the fifth of the set, to give the Wildcats a 25-19 set win.
It didn’t look good for the Wildcats early in the fifth set as Sioux Falls took an 8-4 lead, but kills from Brahmer and Katie Stephens cut the Cougar lead to 9-8 forcing a USF timeout. WSC then used back-to-back service aces from junior libero Haley Kauth followed by a USF attack error to take control of the set with an 11-9 lead. The Wildcats closed the set with a pair of blocks, a solo stuff by Beller and another by Beller and Knobbe on match point, to complete the WSC rally in the fifth set with a 15-11 win.
Sioux Falls outhit WSC in the contest .198 to .171 and held a sizeable 69-46 advantage in kills over the Wildcats. USF had 31 attack errors in the match to just 17 by WSC. The Wildcats had a commanding 16-7 edge in blocks over the Cougars and had eight service aces in the match with just one error while USF had seven aces and seven service errors.
Sophomore Alyssa Ballenger paced WSC in hitting with 12 kills to go with 20 digs for her first double-double of the season. Brahmer added 10 kills and had three blocks while Beller produced nine kills and tied a single match school record with 13 blocks in the contest. WSC and NSIC Hall of Famer Emily Schroeder Jones accomplished the feat (13 blocks) three times in her career from 2005-07.
Junior libero Haley Kauth was credited with 21 digs and had three of Wayne State’s eight service aces in the win while senior setter Megan Gebhardt had 36 set assists.
The Wildcats will be in action again Saturday afternoon playing host to #7 Southwest Minnesota State in the home opener with first serve set for 1 p.m.