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Warriors fall to No. 3 V-Hawks in NSAA quarterfinal

By Matt Oliver

LA CROSSE, Wis. – The Waldorf College volleyball team saw its season come to an end at the hands of Viterbo University during Saturday’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Tournament South Division quarterfinal.

Entering the night ranked No. 3 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) poll, the V-Hawks (34-4) swept the Warriors (9-29) for the third time this year as they won by scores of 25-10, 25-11, 25-21.

“Viterbo showed why they are ranked No. 3,” Waldorf coach Paul Meyer said. “They kept us back on our heels all night, especially in the first two sets and simply put, we got beat by a very talented team.”

Junior Abby Buehler led Waldorf with eight kills and sophomore Isabelle Rothbauer added six kills.

Sophomore Kaitlyn Monck turned in 13 assists and three kills while junior Valerie Rivera handed out eight assists for the Warriors, who also received three kills from junior Megan Perkins. Senior Genie Payne and junior Brianna Haugen finished with two kills apiece.

Waldorf freshman Mandy Toman and Monck tallied one ace serve each.

Sophomore Briley Sullivan recorded a team-high 10 digs for the Warriors. Monck collected nine digs and Rivera came away with eight digs. Freshman Danica Cheney ended the night with four digs while sophomore Erica Fee and Perkins contributed three digs apiece.

Waldorf finished with six total blocks. Perkins worked for a solo block and three block assists. Buehler provided a solo block and block assist, Rothbauer provided a solo block and Payne had two block assists.

Viterbo racked up 11 blocks in the match, fending off the Warriors at the net from the start.

“I thought we started passing and playing defense very well, but Viterbo’s defense was outstanding early,” Meyer said. “They were blocking very well and anything we got past the block, it always seemed their libero was picking up and holding our offense to negative numbers.”

Waldorf turned in a .030 team hitting percentage, but was held to a negative hitting clip in the first two sets. The V-Hawks brought a fierce attack, hitting .343 overall. They hit .467 and .324 in the first and second sets, respectively.

“Offensively, they did an incredible job getting in system no matter what we threw at them and hit well over .300 in both Sets 1 and 2,” Meyer said.

The third set was a battle as the Warriors ramped up their hitting percentage to .200 and looked to force a fourth set to keep their season alive. In the process, the V-Hawks’ hitting dropped to .257.

“We were able to slow their offense down,” Meyer said. “Our offense started finding holes and scoring, but we just could not put that big run together that we needed and Viterbo pulled away late.”

The loss ended the careers of Buehler and Payne. Buehler, who’s a senior academically, finishes as Waldorf’s all-time kills (1,136) and blocks (305) leader. Together, Buehler and Payne set the tone for the Warriors as leaders and were examples to a promising group of underclassmen who return next season.

“It’s a tough way to finish, but we battled every minute just like we have all season,” Meyer said. “We will miss the leadership and incredible attitudes and work ethic of our seniors. Abby and Genie have helped develop of a whole new culture in our program that will be the foundation of our future success.”