Sarah Kohler and Natalie Minchow, Sioux Falls Cougars
University of Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, SD -- A resilient University of Sioux Falls (9-8, 1-7 NSIC) volleyball squad came within six points of forcing a fifth set, but Winona State (16-2, 8-0 NSIC) prevailed in four, 22-25, 25-11, 25-19, 25-19 in front of 247 fans at the Stewart Center on Friday evening.

The victory extended the Warriors’ winning streak to 15 consecutive matches.

Bekah Saugen posted 14 kills and 12 digs for the visiting Warriors, while Katie Froehle tallied 10 kills and 16 digs.

A pair of former Platte-Geddes teammates paced the Cougar offense, as freshman outside hitter Kellee Griese recorded 11 kills and 11 digs for the first double-double of her career. Sophomore and 2011 Platte-Geddes graduate Emily Johnson chipped in 11 kills, four digs and a service ace.

Junior setter Alexa Reed had a stellar night, posting her own double-dip with 26 assists and 11 digs. The St. Leo’s University (Fla.) transfer also contributed three kills on six swings (.500) and a block assist. Sophomore middle blocker Sam Lovell, who entered the match with the fourth-best attack clip (.373) in the NSIC, had six kills on 14 attempts (.429) to go along with two solo blocks and a block assist.

Libero Andrea Odbert had a team-high 14 digs.

The first set saw seven ties in the first eighteen points before a Warrior attack error put the Cougars ahead 10-9. With Griese serving, USF went on a four-point run to take a 14-10 lead. The squads exchanged points until back-to-back miscues by the Warriors gave the Cougars a six point cushion at 23-17. A late rally by WSU trimmed USF’s lead to 24-22 before Johnson put down a kill to end the frame.

An 11-point run helped Winona State claim set two, 25-11. Three straight USF errors and WSU’s Kayla Uhlenhake (two aces) powered the run that put the Warriors in front 11-1 and forced a Cougars timeout. Out of the break, USF battled to cut the deficit to nine points at 18-9, but the Warriors tossed four straight points on the board and closed it with a Saugen kill on a quick set.

The third set went the Warriors’ way as well, 25-19. A 9-2 stand gave Winona State the big advantage at 11-4, as the Cougars committed five errors in the run. USF closed the gap to 14-11 with a 5-1 stretch, getting kills from Sarah Kohler, Reed, Lovell and Johnson, but Winona State quickly made it 20-13 with kills from three different players combined with an Elena Kruesel ace.

The Cougars came back with a 3-0 skein to cut their deficit to four points at 21-17, but it wouldn’t be enough as the teams traded points the rest of the way, with Saugen again providing the exclamation point to give the Warriors the 25-19 third set win.

USF showed life coming out for the fourth, opening with a 2-0 lead behind kills by Kohler and Griese. With the frame tied at 6-all, WSU went on a four-point run to hold a 10-6 advantage. The Cougars drew within two, at 10-8 with kills by Griese and Reed and 11-9 after both teams posted service errors before the Warriors pushed the margin to six points at 19-13. After a late run gave WSU the 24-16 advantage, USF rallied to score three straight to make it 24-19. The Cougars ran out of time on the next point, as WSU’s Katie Froehle sealed the match and 25-19 set win with a cross-court smash that the Cougars couldn't dig cleanly.

USF hit .164 as a team while the Warriors posted a .273 hitting clip.

The Cougars had five aces to Winona State’s 12 and were out-blocked by a 6-to-4 margin.

USF will host Upper Iowa Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Stewart Center.

Courtesy:  University of Sioux Falls

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