No. 8 Wildcats fall to No. 4 Southwest, await NCAA tourney fate


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eighth-ranked Wayne State College could not overcome a .370 attack percentage by No. 4 Southwest Minnesota State as the Mustangs topped the Wildcats 25-12, 26-24, 25-21 Saturday in the semifinals of the  Northern Sun Conference volleyball tournament at the Gangelhoff Center.

The Mustangs hit a sizzling .480 in the first set with 15 kills on 25 attempts to take the easy first-set win. Wayne State battled back in a second set that featured 15 ties and six lead changes. Southwest took an early 7-3 lead, but the Wildcats chipped away at the early deficit and tied the score at 9-9 following back-to-back Mustang attack errors. Wayne State used a Haley Kauth service ace to take a 13-12 lead, and the Wildcats held their final lead in the set at 18-17 on a Katie Stephens kill. Southwest scored the next four points to take a 21-18 advantage, Wayne State came back to tie the match at 24-24 before Southwest got a pair of kills to close out the set

The Mustangs built an early 12-6 advantage in the third set, but Wayne State rallied and got within two at 20-18 following a Michaela Mestl kill. The Mustangs never let Wayne State get any closer, however, finishing off the three-set sweep.

Southwest Minnesota State (26-4) hit .370 in the match compared to Wayne State’s .161.  The Mustangs had 55 kills with just 11 errors on 119 attempts while WSC recorded 31 kills with 13 errors and 112 attacks. The Mustangs held a 61-43 advantage in digs and 9-5 edge in blocks. Southwest had five service aces to just one by Wayne State while the Mustangs had 11 service errors to the Wildcats' two.

Mestl led the Wildcats with nine kills followed by Alyssa Frauendorfer with six and Erin Gross with five. Gross and Alex Opperman each had three blocks for the Wildcats while libero Haley Kauth finished with 18 digs. Setter Megan Gebhardt handed out 26 set assists.

Wayne State (24-7) awaits word on a possible at-large bid to the Central Region of the NCAA Div. II National Tournament, with the NCAA selection show set for Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. on