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Waldorf powers to wins over Sterling, Mount Mercy

Waldorf Warriors LogoBy Aaron Schneider

FOREST CITY – The Waldorf University volleyball team closed out the Country Inn & Suites Invitational strong on Saturday with wins over Sterling College and Mount Mercy University.

After playing three matches on Friday, Waldorf (4-5) concluded its fourth match in a 24-hour span with a 25-13, 25-15, 25-19 win over Sterling (4-5).

“After a long day on Friday, it would have been very easy to sit back and take Sterling for granted or simply not come out with good energy,” Waldorf coach Paul Meyer said. “The team came out focused and played very well, especially defensively. We took control early and completed the quick three-set sweep.”

Sophomore Kayla Budgins powered to 18 kills and a .538 hitting percentage. The 6-foot middle hitter from Germantown, Wisconsin, tied the school record for the most kills in a three-set match.

Junior Rebecca Bartnicki recorded eight kills and a .467 hitting percentage. The 6-foot-1 middle hitter from Chicago also contributed a solo block and a block assist.

Senior Megan Perkins tallied seven kills and junior Isabelle Rothbauer added six kills. Junior Briley Sullivan notched 17 digs, junior Erica Fee collected 16 digs and junior Molly Minich recorded seven digs. Senior Valerie Rivera handed out 23 assists and freshman Elisabeth Tramm provided nine assists. Fee delivered two ace serves while junior Ashley Holl produced an ace.

Waldorf played strong offensively and defensively, posting a .261 hitting percentage and holding Sterling to a .017 hitting percentage.

Sterling was not prepared for Waldorf’s defense in the opening set as Sterling was held to a -.073 hitting percentage.

“We established our middle attack early and ran our offense very well in the first set, hitting .229 and dominated defensively, holding Sterling to -.073,” Meyer said.

Waldorf dominated the second set after powering to a .500 hitting percentage despite Sterling improving its hitting percentage to .162 for the set.

“The second set, Sterling ran its offense much better however, our offense really stepped up hitting .500,” Meyer said.

Waldorf came out slow offensively for the third set with only a .075 hitting percentage, but Waldorf utilized its defense to get the job done.

“Our offense sputtered a bit, dropping to .075,” Meyer said. “Our defense made the difference holding them to -.026 and clinching the win. It was a great team effort.”

Waldorf overcame the adversity of playing its fifth match of the weekend, rounding out its home tournament by capturing a 25-21, 15-25, 25-18, 25-22 over Mount Mercy (7-3).

“It was definitely a match that we willed the win,” Meyer said. “I don’t think we had much in the tank left, but we did an incredible job finding a way to win.”

Junior Kaitlyn Monck led the Warriors with 12 kills. Bartnicki contributed 11 kills, two solo blocks and five block assists, as Bartnicki ranks fifth in the school record books for total blocks in a four-set match.

Rivera set up the offense with 33 assists and Tramm turned in 19 assists. Sullivan collected 27 digs, Rivera added 16 digs, Minich came away with 15 digs and Fee closed out the match with 11 digs. Rivera contributed three block assists while Fee registered an ace.

The first set was a well-fought battle between Mount Mercy and Waldorf, but the Warriors came out on top.

“Set 1 was close across the board with both teams playing well,” Meyer said. “I thought we did a great job of blocking their key hitters and making them look at other options as well as running a balanced offense to get that first set.”

Waldorf struggled to get into gear during the second set as Mount Mercy prevailed. The Mustangs held the Warriors to seven kills and a .000 hitting percentage.

“Mount Mercy controlled the set,” Meyer said. “We lost energy and didn’t get our offense going at all. We looked tired and made a lot of unforced errors.”

Waldorf rebounded and found its rhythm to lock up the final two sets.

“We simply found a way to win.” Meyer said. “Each player stepped up, made some adjustments and each player made at least one big play. To win big matches, everyone has to make big plays and that’s what we did. This team refused to lose.”

Waldorf faces Mount Mercy in a rematch on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. contest at Cedar Rapids.