By Denny Weller
Special to The Free Press
A stagnant Minnesota State volleyball team could not match Augustana’s aggressive play Saturday afternoon at Bresnan Arena as the 10th-ranked Mavericks dropped a 25-21, 19-25, 25-18, 25-13 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference contest.
Junior middle hitter Holly Hafemeyer belted 17 kills and notched four ace blocks to lead a balanced Vikings’ attack. Junior Taylor Hrdlichka and senior Jordan Spatenka ripped 12 kills each for the winners while sophomore Courtney Ysker added nine ace hits and a team-best 19 digs. Freshman Marissa Johnson delivered 51 set assists.
“It seems like Saturday’s have kind of been our enemy lately,” Minnesota State senior outside hitter Chelsea Fogarty said. “We just weren’t composed the whole game and were too lax on our assignments.
“They run a pretty unorthodox offense, running cross patterns that are difficult to follow. They were relentless and kept coming at us.”
Augustana (12-6 overall, 6-3 in NSIC) built a 13-9 lead in Game 1 behind two kills each from Hafemyeyer and Hrdlichka. After the Mavericks got a kill from senior middle hitter Jill Storlie, Ysker’s four-point service run helped the Vikings extend the margin to 17-11. The Mavericks crept to within 23-21 on kills from Storlie and Kayla Berning before a service error and Hafemeyer’s ace block ended things.
Minnesota State (12-5, 6-3) trailed in the early stages of Game 2 as Hrdlichka and Hafemeyer each walloped a pair of kills to stake the Vikings to an 8-6 lead. Storlie’s three-kill effort then sparked a 6-2 run that put the Mavericks ahead 12-10 on Briel Hendricksen’s ace serve. Augustana battled back to gain a 16-14 lead before Berning smacked two kills in a 6-3 MSU run.
Leading 20-19, Storlie tallied an ace tip and block in front of a Vikings’ hitting miscue. Fogarty, who led the Mavericks with 15 kills, then fired a kill just inside the back line and Storlie capped her terrific game by slicing a game-ending kill off a block.
Credit Auggie for being able to stay in it and coming back in the second half to bring it to us,” MSU coach Dennis Amundson said. “Our passing was streaky and their passing was good so they were in system and we weren’t.
“They got to run that slide and we didn’t defend it well. That’s something we’re going to have to clean up.”
Augustana won Game 3 after Hafemeyer and Spatenka took things over midway through a close game. Sophomore outside hitter Olivia Kuker blasted four of her seven kills to keep the Mavericks in it early but a 10-2 Vikings’ run broke things open and Augustana continued its onslaught from there, controlliing Game 4 from start to finish behind Hafemeyer’s seven kills.
“We just didn’t play like we wanted it,” Mavericks’ freshman setter Ellie Van De Steeg said. “Their offense was a lot more involved than we’ve seen from a lot of teams. They ran a lot of quicks and crossings, and our blocking needed to be better.”
Storlie finished with 12 kills for the Mavericks, who also received eight kills from Berning and seven from Courteney Steinhauser. Van De Steeg collected 42 set assists and four kills while senior defensive specialist Samantha Dale came up with 19 digs.
Minnesota State plays Friday at the University of Mary.