No. 1-ranked Wayne State matched its best start in school history Saturday with a 25-20, 25-16, 25-15 win over ninth-ranked Minnesota Duluth in Northern Sun Conference action Saturday in Duluth, Minn.
The win put the Wildcats at 16-0 on the season, matching the best start in school history that was recorded during the 2010 season. That team reached No. 1 after beating then-No. 2 Duluth the week prior to improve to 16-0.
Saturday’s matchup was a straight-set sweep for the Wildcats, who have lost only five sets in 16 matches so far this season. They forced 24 attack errors and recorded 12 blocks to claim the three-set win Saturday.
The first set saw nine ties and three lead changes before a late surge gave Wayne State the opening-set win.
Back-to-back blocks helped the Wildcats break a 19-19 tie and take the lead for good. Wayne State closed the set with a kill by Kelsie Cada, a service ace by Rachel Walker and a combo block by Cada and Maggie Brahmer to claim the opening set.
Wayne State took control early in the second set, forcing 10 Bulldog attack errors and recording six blocks. Brahmer had consecutive solo blocks and Jordan McCormiack added another to turn an 8-7 deficit into a 12-8 advantage. Wayne State led by as many as nine before taking the 2-0 match advantage.
Duluth played the ‘Cats close early in the third set, but two Taya Beller kills and a service ace by Havyn Heinz made it 11-8 and the Wildcats would not be challenged again as they improved to 16-0 overall and 6-0 in NSIC play.
Wayne State finished the match with a .248 hitting percentage compared to .100 for the Bulldogs. The ‘Cats held a 12-2 advantage in blocks and 6-3 edge in service aces while holding a 42-37 edge in digs.
Beller had 14 kills to lead Wayne State, her 14th straight match with 10 or more kills. Cada followed with eight kills while Brahmer had seven to go with nine blocks that included three solos. Jessie Brandl had 10 digs while Walker handed out 27 set assists with three aces.
Wayne State will be at home this weekend, hosting Bemidji State Friday at 7 p.m. and Minnesota Crookston Saturday afternoon in a 1 p.m. contest at Rice Auditorium.