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Season outlook gets brighter for NDSU volleyball with win against UND

FARGO - A major upgrade to the lighting system at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse wasn't the only noticeable ray of light for North Dakota State. The volleyball team ended three years of darkness against the University of North Dakota.

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North Dakota State players celebrate a point against the University of North Dakota during a volleyball match Tuesday at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse in Fargo. The Bison defeated UND in four sets, ending a streak of three consecutive losses to their in-state rival. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO – A major upgrade to the lighting system at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse wasn’t the only noticeable ray of light for North Dakota State. The volleyball team ended three years of darkness against the University of North Dakota.
Playing at home for the first time this season, the Bison looked nothing like their 1-5 record heading into a rivalry they once dominated before the move to Division I. A 25-20, 25-16, 13-25, 25-18 win seemed to give NDSU a renewed sense of energy.
Mainly because it played with more wattage in front of 1,572 fans.
“This year we took in the passion of the game,” said Bison outside hitter Jenni Fassbender said. “The last couple of matches I thought we were too technical, but tonight I thought we did what we had to do and that was play with energy.”
It was the first win for Bison for third-year head coach Kari Thompson over UND, and there was no mistaking the importance of getting rid of that monkey off her back. She called the victory “huge.”
“This is a big match for a lot of people in the state,” she said. “It’s something I haven’t gotten as a head coach, and that goes for my young team too.”
The Bison broke away from a 15-15 tie in Set 4 with eight straight points – six coming on kills. Sophomore Emily Miron had three of them on her way to 15 for the night.
It stopped UND’s winning streak at five and dropped it to 6-3 on the season.
“Their energy, absolutely,” UND coach Mark Pryor said when asked about the match difference. “When you look at it, we had nine service errors. That’s ballgame. It’s a mentality. It’s something we have to get better at.”
NDSU pulled away from a tight battle in Set 1. The Bison were rarely threatened in Set 2 after taking a 14-6 lead and at that point were hitting .317, much higher than their .135 average coming in.
That came to a screeching halt in Set 3, dominated by UND from the outset after intermission. It was a striking reversal of momentum and put it back in the match.
“We got a little casual,” Fassbender said.
Fassbender led NDSU with 18 kills and led everybody with 20.5 points.
Sophomore outside hitter Anna Pioske led UND with 17 kills. Freshman middle hitter Faith Dooley had 10 kills and six blocks.
Meanwhile, it was the first foray into the rivalry for Pryor, who’s in his first year as the head coach after previously being an assistant at Baylor. He made a pitch to play this match more than once a year.
“One thing that intrigues me is why we don’t play home-and-away every year,” Pryor said. “It makes zero sense for the fans in the state of North Dakota, both universities and it makes way too much sense financially. This was a great show tonight and unfortunately it was not our best performance.”
UND (6-3) (kills-blocks-aces): Kaczorowska 0-1-0, Pioske 17-2-0, Husfeldt 6-0-0, Robinson 12-2-0, Moser 7-1-0, Dooley 10-6-0, Hildebrand 0-0-0, Clarke 0-0-0, Hart 0-0-0, Thompson 4-1-0.
NDSU (2-5): Minnick 11-1-0, Rasmussen 2-1-0, Claxton 0-0-3, Miron 15-4-0, Fassbender 18-2-1, Purnell 1-0-0, Jorgenson 4-2-0, Jessen 0-0-0, Cammack 3-0-0, Milligan 0-0-0, Steffen 1-0-0, Lee 0-0-0, Samec 0-0-0.

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALL
Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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