By Jeremy Behnke
Journal Sports Editor
NEW ULM - After a frustrating loss to St. Scholastica on Saturday, the Martin Luther College volleyball team needed a victory over Northland College to get some confidence back.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Leah Nass (11) spikes the ball over the block of Northland’s Gabby Jukkala (12) during the first game of the match Saturday at MLC in New Ulm.
The Knights struggled at times with the Lumberjills, but in the end the Knights pulled away with a 25-14, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference volleyball win Saturday.
The win improves MLC's conference record to 5-3 and the Knights are still in the thick of things as far as the playoff race goes.
Rebecca Engelbrecht had 14 kills and Rachel Hein and Leah Nass finished with 11 kills each. Miranda Maasz finished with 42 set assists and 15 digs while Jennifer Draeger had 21 digs.
While Friday's loss was still in the back of their minds, the Knights knew that they had to put it behind them and focus on the Lumberjills, who entered the match fifth in the conference standings (MLC was tied for third).
"We really talked about rolling that loss off our shoulders and we wanted to come out and show that we are one of the top teams that are going to be competing for the championship," Hein said.?"We wanted to just bring our game and bring the confidence in that we had."
The Knights showed they were the more dominant team in the first set, racing out to a 9-4 lead after Miranda Maasz served an ace.
Later, the Knights grabbed a 18-9 lead off of a tip by Maasz and the Knights sealed the deal late thanks to a hitting error by Northland.
For whatever reason, the Knights struggled in the second set as the Lumberjills evened the match with a 25-22 win.
"It was a little bit of everything, lack of focus, we lost our communication,"?Hein said. "We picked it up at the end and we were communicating a lot more at the end of the game."
The Knights trailed in the third set 12-8 at one point. But MLC eventually took a 14-13 lead on Engelbrecht's kill and they went up 20-16 on a tip by Nass. MLC pulled away thanks to a Hein kill and a Hein tip that made it 25-18.
Both teams were pretty close in the fourth set before MLC pulled away late. Nass had three kills late that helped MLC pull away at the end.
The Knights return to action at 7 p.m. Friday when they host first-place Northwestern.