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MSUM prevails at home

MOORHEAD - Coming home proved to be the perfect remedy for Minnesota State Moorhead, which spent its first few weeks playing matches on the road. The Dragons used a balanced attack to power their way to a 3-0 victory against Minot State in Northe...

MOORHEAD – Coming home proved to be the perfect remedy for Minnesota State Moorhead, which spent its first few weeks playing matches on the road.

The Dragons used a balanced attack to power their way to a 3-0 victory against Minot State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference volleyball at Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.

MSUM (6-6, 1-3 NSIC) won by scores of 28-26, 25-14 and 25-21 to earn its first conference victory this season.

“This first one was really important for us,” said Dragons junior Kaitlin VanWinkle, who had nine kills and three blocks. “We were really excited to have this home game and wanted do it in three.”

The Dragons played their first 11 matches on the road or at neutral sites before Tuesday’s match against the Beavers. MSUM had lost its first three conference matches.

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“This conference win was very important for us,” said senior Maggie Gruber, who had 12 kills and one block. “It felt nice after having all those away games.”

Minot State was in position to win the first set after an ace from senior outside hitter Jen Dixon. The Dragons countered with the next three points. A 5-foot-11 middle blocker, VanWinkle sparked that surge with a block that tied the score 26-26. Back-to-back hitting errors from Minot State gave the Dragons a 28-26 victory in the opening set.

“That was a huge momentum thing for us,” said Dragons head coach Tammy Blake.

“They pushed us,” VanWinkle said of Minot State in that first set. “They were doing really scrappy work on defense.”

The Dragons took control of the match in the second set, scoring eight of nine points during one stretch. A VanWinkle kill capped that rally and gave MSUM a 13-7 lead. The Dragons later added a string of seven consecutive points to build a 21-12 lead. Gruber ended the second set with a kill for a 25-14 set win.

The Dragons scored four of the final five points in the third set. Junior middle blocker Abby Wolpern finished the match with a kill for a 25-21 victory in the final set.

“It feels so good to win because we all contributed as a team,” VanWinkle said.

The Dragons had five players with at least eight kills. Junior hitter Morgan Gradishar had 10 kills, joining Gruber in double figures.

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“We changed our system this year to be more evenly dispersed,” Blake said. “That’s what we were trying to get, to get our offense more spread out.”

MINOT STATE (kills-blocks-aces): Byrne 1-0-1 (32 assists), Dixon 11-2-2, Fagerburg 2-1-1, Dabovich 5-1-0, Dauwalder 4-6-0, Sall 17-3-0, Butters 0-0-0, Heavenor 0-0-0, Gathman 0-0-0, Love 0-0-0, Boutin 0-0-0, Pelo 0-0-0 (13 digs).

MSUM: VanWinkle 9-3-0, Baer 1-0-0 (25 assists), Wolpern 9-2-0, Foss 0-0-2, Hartkopf 4-1-0, Grimm 8-0-0, Krenske 0-0-0 (15 digs), Gradishar 10-1-0, Gruber 12-1-0, Sullivan 1-0-0 (20 assists).

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALL
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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