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Warriors fall to Bruins in straight sets

By Matt Oliver

FOREST CITY – Bellevue University pulled away to top the Waldorf College volleyball team in straight sets during the final North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) contest of the season on Friday.

The Bruins (21-16, 3-3) entered the match receiving votes in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll and won by scores of 25-16, 25-22, 25-21.

“Our rhythm just was not there long enough,” Waldorf coach Paul Meyer said. “Every part of our game was solid. However, every part of our game struggled at times and against a quality team like Bellevue, you just can’t have one area not playing well at any given time.”

Junior Abby Buehler led the Warriors (9-26, 2-6) with 11 kills in the loss. Sophomore Isabelle Rothbauer slammed nine kills and junior Brianna Haugen provided five kills. Junior Megan Perkins registered three kills while freshman Kayla Budgins added two kills and a pair of solo blocks.

Waldorf sophomore Kaitlyn Monck turned in a team-high 18 assists to go along with seven digs and three kills. The Warriors received 14 assists from junior Valerie Rivera, who also tallied three ace serves.

Waldorf sophomore Briley Sullivan recorded 16 digs in another strong defensive effort. Sophomore Danica Cheney collected eight digs while sophomore Erica Fee, Rivera and Rothbauer contributed four digs apiece.

Bellevue netted six total blocks on the night, holding Waldorf to a .133 team hitting percentage and 34 kills. Monck and Haugen had one block assist each for the Warriors, who ended the night with three blocks.

Beth Walker and Shayla Scanlan smashed 11 kills apiece for the Bruins, who recorded 37 kills behind a .215 team hitting percentage. Rachel Wald connected for eight kills and Mikaylah Gillespie had four kills.

Walker paced Bellevue with a match-high 23 assists. The Bruins notched six aces.

Taylor Holz led Bellevue from the service line with three aces and was also strong on the defensive end with 22 digs. The Bruins received two aces from Erin Warren and one ace from Walker.

Bellevue’s Victoria Bowens came away with eight digs. Walker closed out the match with seven digs while Warren and Wald finished with six digs each.

Gillespie powered the blocking effort for the Bruins, posting two solo blocks and a pair of block assists. Walker and Wald got into the mix with two block assists apiece. Rachel Barr and Scanlan also contributed block assists.

The opening set saw Bellevue charge in front to a 15-5 advantage and it proved to be too much ground for Waldorf to make up.

“We started slow in the first set and could not get anything going and simply gave up too many points,” Meyer said.

In the second set, the Warriors held an early edge and led 13-10 midway through the match. The Bruins wouldn’t go away and used a 15-8 run down the stretch.

“We made some good adjustments and did a nice job battling,” Meyer said. “I thought Bellevue did a nice job finding holes and made a few more plays than us.”

After surrendering the first point of the third set, Waldorf reeled off six consecutive points. It was a battle the rest of the way, but Bellevue responded to seal the sweep.

“We came out with the energy and fire that we had been lacking in the first two sets,” Meyer said. “We did a great job of getting a lead and even extending it early. Once Bellevue picked their game up, we didn’t match their energy when they went on their run.”

The Warriors close out the regular season against a pair of NCAA Division III opponents in Saturday’s Wartburg Halloween Triangular at Waverly. They face Cornell College (12-13) at 12 p.m. and Wartburg College (26-5) at 3 p.m.

Wartburg is currently receiving votes in the NCAA Division III poll and clinched the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) regular-season championship earlier this week. Cornell has won seven consecutive matches and locked up its fourth straight Midwest Conference (MWC) title.

Waldorf looks to shake off Friday’s tough loss as the Warriors square off against the Knights and Rams in the final two matchups of the season.

“It was a frustrating loss since we played well and had leads against a very good team, but we have to match their energy and believe that we can play with these types of teams,” Meyer said. “We need to rebound quickly and finish the regular season strong.”