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Warriors rally past Royals, Lancers in five-set battles

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy: Matt Oliver

OMAHA, Nebraska – Willing its way to a pair of hard-fought victories, the Waldorf University volleyball team outlasted Grace University and Mount Marty College in five-set battles during the College of Saint Mary Tournament on Saturday.

“Going into the day, we had one goal – to walk away 2-0 on the day,” Waldorf coach Paul Meyer said. “It took a lot of battling, hard work and a lot of heart, but we got it done.”

The Warriors (6-8) opened the day bringing down Grace (3-7) by scores of 25-22, 24-26, 25-27, 25-17, 15-5.

Kayla Budgins led Waldorf’s attack with 16 kills and turned in three block assists. The 6-foot sophomore middle hitter from Germantown, Wisconsin was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Junior Rebecca Bartnicki provided 12 kills, while senior Brianna Haugen and junior Kaitlyn Monck added 11 kills each. Senior Megan Perkins tallied nine kills.

Setting the offense for the Warriors, senior Valerie Rivera and freshman Elisabeth Tramm dished out 31 assists apiece.

Junior Erica Fee delivered four service aces. Freshman Kelsey Sederquest and junior Briley Sullivan connected for two aces each. Rivera and Tramm also contributed aces.

Sullivan was strong on the defensive end, recording 35 digs to tie for the third most digs in school history in a five-set match. Fee collected 23 digs, Sederquest came away with 15 digs, Rivera closed out the match with 12 digs and Monck finished with 11 digs.

Waldorf posted five total blocks, receiving two block assists apiece from Bartnicki and Perkins. Junior Isabelle Rothbauer, Haugen and Monck also registered block assists.

The Royals came ready for a fight and challenged the Warriors from the get-go.

“Against a much improved Grace squad, we came out early, got a good lead and were able to hold on for the first-set win,” Meyer said.

Grace locked in defensively to gain the upper hand in the subsequent two sets.

“We struggled and came up on the short end of a couple two-point losses in the second and third sets,” Meyer said. “Our offense wasn’t clicking, we could not put runs together and a good Grace defense found a way to win.”

Waldorf turned the tide, claiming the final two sets to clinch the match.

“We got things going a little more and even though scores were close, I felt we were in much better control at the end,” Meyer said. “It was a good first win to start the day.”

In another fight to the finish, the Warriors overcame an early two-set deficit to win 24-26, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 22-20 over Mount Marty (5-5). With 116 scored in the contest, Waldorf tied a school record for the highest point-total in a five-set match.

The match against the Lancers featured 34 ties, including 12 ties in the fifth set. Nineteen lead changes occurred throughout the contest with seven coming in a back-and-forth fifth set.

“The second match was just a great battle,” Meyer said. “We did an incredible job of finding a way to win.”

Monck smashed 15 kills, while Bartnicki and Perkins slammed 10 kills apiece to pace Waldorf in the comeback victory. Rothbauer racked up nine kills, Budgins added eight kills and Haugen contributed seven kills.

Rivera handed out 30 assists, and Tramm turned in 25 assists.

Sederquest notched a career-high five aces. Mount Marty led 23-15 in the fourth set until the Austin, Minnesota native reeled off 10 straight serves to help lift the Warriors.

Waldorf generated nine aces with aces coming from Budgins, Rivera, Sullivan and Tramm.

Sullivan worked the court for 18 digs, and Sederquest set a career-high with 17 digs. Fee recorded eight digs, Rivera provided seven digs and Tramm finished with six digs.

Behind a strong showing at the net, Waldorf piled up six total blocks. Rothbauer led the way with four block assists, while Bartnicki and Budgins tallied three block assists apiece. Perkins and Haugen also had block assists.

The Warriors return to action on Tuesday, taking on NCAA Division II’s Upper Iowa University (5-3) in a 7 p.m. matchup at Fayette.

Capping the weekend with back-to-back five-set victories, Waldorf is aiming to build momentum heading into next week’s action.

“In the fifth set, we just battled and came up with several huge blocks and defensive plays to pull out the win,” Meyer said. “It was a big day for us and a great way to end the weekend.”