Concordia Blocks UMD’s No. 1 Path

Saints Continue UMAC Domination

John Gilbert

In a week of very important sports events, we watched the Twins battle right until the final two games, then fade away when their bullpen couldn’t avoid hitting the Kansas City Royals bats. We watched the Vikings play poorly until Denver seemed as far off as the Rockies, then make a spirited run at the Broncos, only to fall short. We watched the Gopher football team go to Northwestern and learn that the Wildcats may have the best scholastic standards in the Big Ten, but they also can play a little defense on a football field in a 27-0 thumping absorbed by the punchless rodents.

Farther north, UMD’s football team was on the road, routing Minnesota State-Moorhead 47-14, and now prepare for homecoming Saturday against St. Cloud State, which hammered Minnesota-Crookston 62-14. St. Scholastica took over Malosky Stadium for homecoming, and hammered Martin Luther 53-13 Saturday afternoon. Then the UMD men hit AMSOIL Arena and blitzed Lakehead University 6-1 while the women were on the road, getting swept at Boston College.

But the biggest sports event of the whole weekend, in fact maybe the entire autumn in Duluth came at Romano Gym on Tuesday night when the No. 1 ranked UMD volleyball team took on the challenge of traditional Northern Sun rival Concordia of St. Paul, the No. 3 team in NCAA Division II ratings.

The Bulldogs were primed and ready, but Concordia showed its usual consistency and skill level and captured the match, 3-1.

UMD put on an impressive show in Game 1, rallying from ties of 21-all, 23-all, 24-all and 25-all, gaining the upper hand when Sydnie Mauch hammered a powerful kill from the right side for a 26-25 edge. Then Mariah Scharf won it 27-25 with a kill from the left side.

But the 27-25 triumph served to arouse Concordia for Game 2, and the Golden Bears dominated the game, seeming to block every good chance UMD could arrange, for a 25-14 victory.

Game 3 was much tighter, but again UMD had to battle from behind against the confident and polished Golden Bears. Concordia jumped ahead 9-3, and it took a huge effort by UMD to catch up at 12-12. Sarah Kelly’s kill lifted UMD into a 17-17 tie, and the game also was tied at 18 and 19. But Concordia scored four consecutive points to take command 23-19, and the Golden Bears claimed a 25-20 verdict.

The most competitive game of the match was Game 4, when the two teams swapped leads and played through numerous deadlocks. It looked like the Bulldogs would force a deciding fifth game when Maria Scharf recorded her match-high 17th kill with a gem from the back row for a 23-22 UMD lead. But that proved to be the last point the Bulldogs could muster, and Concordia rattled off three straight points to claim a 25-23 victory.

Scharf had 17 kills, while Taylor Wissbroecker added 12, Sarah Kelly 11 and Mauch 10, while Concordia was paced by Anna Schlaak’s 16, and Emma Lange added 11 and Mariya Sampson 10. It was a tough night to be No. 1 in the country, but the Bulldogs learned a few places they need to tighten up as the long season moves forward.