NEW ULM - At the midway point of the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference volleyball season, the Martin Luther College Knights know exactly what they need to do in order to qualify for the conference postseason tournament.
On Wednesday, the Knights took a big step towards reaching that goal by defeating their rivals Bethany Lutheran College 25-22, 25-15, 30-28 in UMAC action.
The win puts the Knights at 5-2 in the conference, two games ahead of the Vikings. MLC is currently in third place in the standings.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Morgan Kumbier (10) spikes the ball past Kristen Mielke of Bethany Lutheran Wednesday at MLC.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
While at first glance a sweep appears to be a dominating performance, it was a tough match for the Knights. The Vikings fought hard, with only the second set being a convincing win for MLC.
Rebecca Engelbrecht led the way for the Knights, finishing with 14 kills and 17 digs. Kayla Schoenek finished with 13 kills and five digs and Miranda Maasz dished out 30 set assists. Alex Anthon had 15 digs and Maasz also had 11 digs.
"It really feels good," Engelbrecht said of the sweep.?"I?was a little nervous at the end when we were getting up there, but we pulled through."
The Knights were able to grab the lead early in the first set against the Vikings, but Bethany didn't go away easily. The Vikings hung tough until some hitting errors by them allowed the Knights to finally close the deal and capture the first set.
MLC coach Rebecca Cox said she doesn't need to say much to get her squad fired up for the Vikings, especially when both teams are in the hunt for a playoff berth.
"I don't really try to do anything to get them not too excited," Cox said.?"The more excited we are, the better. It's a very important match, because if we win, we're solidly in third place and if we lose, we were in a tie for that fourth seed and I don't want to think about tiebreakers. Being 5-2 and starting the second way through is a good place to be in."
The second set was a different story than the first one. MLC took an early lead and never let the Vikings back in.
"In the first set, we were making a lot of mistakes and they were not, they were playing their game and we were making some mistakes," Engelbrecht said. "In the second game, we got a little more focused and we were able to take care of business."
The Vikings did have several chances to force a fourth set, but they were unable to go up by two late. The Knights took advantage of some Bethany mistakes again, finally closing out the match on a tip.
MLC gets a short break from the UMAC race when they travel to Buena Vista for a nonconference match scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday.