Wildcats handle St. Cloud in four to cap undefeated NSIC docket


When you have four top-ten teams in your conference, winning a conference title is an event in and of itself.

But to go undefeated against that competition? Well — that’s something special.

The top-ranked Wayne State volleyball team capped a perfect 18-0 run through the Northern Sun Conference on Saturday with a four-set dismissal of No. 9 rated St. Cloud State at Rice Auditorium, defeating the Huskies for the second time this season with a 27-25, 25-19, 24-26, 25-21 triumph.

The 27-1 Wildcats had already wrapped up their second straight NSIC title last week and on Saturday became the first team since Minnesota Duluth in 2014 to go unblemished through the conference docket.

That they were able to complete that rare feat brought a smile to coach Scott Kneifl’s face after the match.

“It’s almost laughable at times, because we’ve played in so many close matches against so many quality opponents,” he said. “Going undefeated here isn’t like most other conferences. To come away undefeated in the regular season here means a lot.”

The Wildcats’ season finale had a bit of a question mark hanging over it after senior setter Rachel Walker went down with a sprained ankle during practice Friday.

Enter senior Ally Beresford, who came off the bench and put up 40 assists for a team that hit .323 on the day and had four players notch double-digits in kills.

“Ally hasn’t set since high school four years ago and went out there today and made it look effortless,” Kneifl said. “She does that because she shows up for practice every day with a good attitude and works her tail off and made things happen.”

Kneifl said that Walker’s status for the postseason was uncertain at that point, but said Beresford could certainly handle the load.

“Rachel’s ankle is swollen up right now and we hope she can go on Tuesday, but if she can’t we know Ally is capable and we have so many options in our locker room.”

The two teams traded points in the early going, but Wayne State would use a 3-1 run to help build a 16-12 lead.

St. Cloud came back and actually took a 25-24 lead on a kill by Kenzie Foley, but the Wildcats responded by scoring the final three points off kills by Maggie Brahmer and Channatee Robles, with the duo teaming up for a game-ending block to give Wayne State the early advantage.

In the second set, Wayne State used a 5-2 run early to take control of the game and never let the Huskies get closer than three points, taking the 2-0 advantage on a kill by senior Kelsie Cada to go into the break with the two-game lead.

St. Cloud would avoid the three-game sweep with a late comeback, scoring three in a row to come back from a 24-23 deficit, but Wayne State finished things off in the fourth, using consecutive Haven Heinz ace serves to build a 19-13 lead. Brahmer finished off the match with a kill to complete the Wildcats’ undefeated run through the conference.

Wayne State had four players in double digits in kills, led by Cada’s 15. Taya Beller followed with 14, Brahmer had 11 and Robles had 10. Heinz and Jordan McCormick both had ace serves and McCormick led the team with 23 digs, with Heinz adding 19 and Cada 14. Brahmer had seven blocks, Taylor Bunjer was in on five, Beller had five and Robles four.