MORRIS, Minn. – The University of Minnesota Morris volleyball team fell in its home opener on Wednesday night to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, 3-1 (25-23, 16-25, 16-25, 17-25).
Errors were at the center of the defeat for UMN Morris. The Cougars had 24 attack errors, 10 service errors, 12 return errors, and four ball-handling errors to gift UW-River Falls a large number of points.
Things didn’t start poorly for Minnesota Morris. Though the Cougars fell behind, 10-3, to start the match, they eventually roared back to knot the score at 13-13. The Falcons continued to hold a small lead nearly until the end. A kill from Katie Koerper gave the visitors a 23-22 edge, but Maggie Jones went off at the end of the set, tying the score at 23-23 with a kill, giving the Cougars the lead with a block of Sarah Langlois, and then notching another kill to give Minnesota Morris a 1-0 advantage in the match.
The Cougars couldn’t capitalize on the early lead, hitting -.136 as a team in the second set and collecting just four kills as UW-River Falls evened the score at 1-1. Things were only slightly better in the third set as UMN Morris hit -.037 as a team. A kill from Kennedy Geller pulled the Cougars within three, 19-16, but the Falcons scored the final six points of the set to go up, 2-1.
The fourth set was much more closely contested, but UW-River Falls took the lead at the midway point of the set and never looked back. The final tie came at 14-14 on a kill from McKenzie Newton, but the Falcons scored the next three points and the Cougars never got closer than two points after that.
Jones led Minnesota Morris on the night with eight kills. She added two solo blocks and two block assists. Newton, Lydia Nash, and Laura Wellbrock each had five kills on the night. Newton handed out 23 assists and totaled six digs while hitting .444. Alyssa Ukestad had a match-high 17 digs, while Sydney Eckhoff added 10 of her own.
Minnesota Morris heads to UW-Stevens Point on Friday and Saturday for three matches. On Friday, the tournament starts with the Cougars facing Edgewood College at 3 p.m. and then closing the night out with a 7 p.m. match against Carleton College.