Cougars Battle But Fall in Three Sets to Dragons
USF and MSU-Moorhead traded points to start the first frame, but the Dragons quickly got out to a four-point advantage in the first half of the set. USF bounced back, thanks to a kill by Kellee Griese and a Dragon attack error to get within two points at 8-6. Moorhead responded with back-to-back points thanks to a Cougar attack miscue and a kill by Sam Sullivan, pushing the Dragons’ lead back to four points, 10-6. Moorhead went on a 6-2 spurt to move in front 16-8. USF got a kill from Emily Johnson and Goedken and Kohler tossed up a block to cut the deficit to 16-10, but USF couldn't stop Moorhead's quickness at the net and dropped the first set, 25-13.
The Cougars jumped out 2-0 in the second set with a Griese kill and Dragon miscue and pushed their lead to 5-2 after another Moorhead attack error before the Dragons regained momentum with a 6-3 run to tie the set at 8-8. The Dragons went up 10-8 after back-to-back kills by Meredith Egeland and Heidi Lensing before a Goedken spike made it 10-9 in favor of the home team. But the Dragons caught fire again and forced two USF timeouts during a 7-2 spurt that gave them a six point cushion at 17-11. USF refused to give up, but a late four-point run by Moorhead allowed the Dragons to go into the locker room at the break with a two set advantage.
The third set was a battle, as the teams traded the first 12 points to knot the frame at 6-6. The Cougars then strung together five straight points off of kills by Reed and Kohler, a Dragon error and a pair of aces by Andrea Odbert to take an 11-6 lead. However, strong offensive plays by the Dragons cut the deficit to 12-11 and forced a Cougar timeout. Out of the break, the squads went back and forth and the frame was tied at 19 before a Lensing stuff put the Dragons ahead 20-19. USF refocused and tied the set again, 20-20, after a kill by Kohler. But, the Dragons fired off four straight points to lead 24-20. The Cougars earned the sideout on the preceding service error, but Moorhead closed out the set and match, 25-21, with a kill by Annie Palmquist.
The Cougars were out-hit by the Dragons, .278-.039. Moorhead also enjoyed an 8-1 advantage in total blocks.
Johnson chipped in five kills for USF, while Samantha Lovell and Griese tallied three kills each. Odbert led the Cougars’ defensive efforts with 13 digs.
The Cougars will be back on the court Saturday afternoon, as they continue NSIC play at Northern State. The match will begin at 4 p.m.