Wayne State’s rally from a 2-0 set deficit fell just short of going to a fifth set Friday evening against top-ranked and undefeated Minnesota Duluth as the Bulldogs held off the No. 9 Wildcats to win the match 25-21, 25-17, 17-25, 26-24 at Rice Auditorium.
The first set saw the two teams battle to 11 ties and five lead changes until Duluth used a late charge to win the first set. Wayne State’s final lead of the set was 19-18 following a kill from Tarrin Beller. Duluth scored four straight points to go in front 22-19. Wayne State got kills from Alyssa Frauendorfer and Alex Opperman to pull within 22-21, but the Bulldogs closed the set with three straight points.
Wayne State never led in the second set as the Bulldogs pounded out 20 kills while hitting .366, but the Wildcats rebounded in the third set, producing 13 kills and with one attack error while forcing six Duluth errors. Wayne STate built an early 10-6 lead, but Duluth reeled off four straight points to force a Wildcat timeout. The Wildcats came up with a Michaela Mestl ace and Bulldog attack error to go in front 14-11, then pulled away late in the set to send it to a fourth set.
The Wildcats trailed most of the fourth set, but rallied late and took their first lead of the set at 22-21 on a solo block by Beller. A Beller kill gave Wayne State its final lead at 23-22. Duluth then scored back-to-back points for a 24-23 lead, but Wayne State tied the score at 24 on a kill from Frauendorfer before the Bulldogs closed out the match with a pair of kills.
Erin Gross led Wayne State in kills with 14 followed by Frauendorfer with 10. Libero Haley Kauth had 24 digs followed by Michaela Mestl with 16 and Bree Ackermann with 10. Frauendorfer paced Wayne State at the net with six blocks followed by Opperman and Gross with four apiece and setter Megan Gebhardt handed out 38 set assists.
Wayne State (16-6, 7-6 NSIC) will be at home Saturday, hosting St. Cloud State in a 4 p.m. contest at Rice Auditorium.