UMC Women's Volleyball Falls 0-3 in Cancer Awareness Opener

Natalie Dillon
Crookston Times

The University of Minnesota Crookston Women’s Volleyball team fell 0-3 in their Cancer Awareness Weekend opener against Minnesota State University Moorhead.  

Aside from raising awareness, head coach Sarah Morgan said the event will collect donations for Alex Gullingsrud, a local eight-year-old who was recently diagnosed with cancer.  

“We do this every year,” Morgan said. “The past few years we’ve really tried to raise awareness for all different types of cancer. Cancer screenings, preventative measures, things like that. This year, we are very happy to partner with the Gullingsrud family, do some fundraising and help them out in any way we can.” 

In the opening set, the Golden Eagles fell behind 0-2 with a strategic tip and block from the Dragons. A tip from UMC stalled the run only for a point, as the Dragons would increase their lead to 5-1.  

The two teams exchanged points back and forth until the Golden Eagles went on a run of their own, taking advantage of Dragon hitting and service errors. 

Down only 10-15, the Golden Eagles took advantage of Dragon errors again to bring the set within two points, the closest the set would get before the Dragons responded with a run of their own.  

UMC battled back and forth with Moorhead, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Dragons from capturing set one 25-19 with an ace.  

In set two, UMC fell 1-3 with two close calls on the line that went Moorhead’s way. The set remained close, however, until the Dragons went on an eight-point run. UMC’s second timeout stalled the Dragons, but the Golden Eagles couldn’t mount a comeback.  

The Dragons won the second set 25-11 with another eight-point run to close out the set. 

After losing two tough sets, Mara Weisensel, a sophomore middle hitter, knew the team needed stay positive and focus on the set ahead in order to succeed. 

“We look to each other for positivity and being uplifted,” Weisensel said. “It’s what we aim to do. If somebody’s down, we’re like, okay, that was a rough rally, but now we lift each other up and we get to the next rally.” 

The mindset worked, as the Golden Eagles entered set three with greater speed and aggressiveness.  

Despite going down 0-4, UMC stuck with Moorhead thanks to kills from Weisensel and freshman middle hitter Grace Arndorfer.  The Golden Eagles cut the Dragon lead to three with another kill from Weisensel and an ace from freshman libero Layne Whaley that just skimmed over the net.  

Another Golden Eagle run, highlighted by a kill from redshirt senior outside hitter Lauren Wallace and ace from senior defensive specialist Bailey Mulcahy, brought the team within one at 14-15.  

UMC committed some errors, causing Morgan to call a timeout. With the breather, the Golden Eagles came out fighting, knotting the game at 19 with kills from Weisensel and sophomore hitter Charlee Krieg. 

Moorhead’s timeout didn’t stall the Golden Eagles as they took the next two points with a Dragon error and kill from junior outside hitter Bojana Stekovic.  

With the lead and momentum, it seemed like the Golden Eagles would force another set, but the Dragons pulled out  win with a three-point run at the end.  

Despite the loss, Morgan liked the change she saw in her team in the final set. 

“Normally we play a little bit faster than that, and we weren’t playing faster,” Morgan said. “So, in the third set, I saw us come out and speed things up and start playing the way we do Monday through Thursday in practice. As soon as we can bring those practice moves into the game, we’re going to look good.” 

Weisensel lead the team with 10 kills, followed closely behind by Krieg with 9. Redshirt junior Natalie Koke amassed 25 assists, and Whaley put up 11 digs.  

UMC looks to bounce back today against Northern State University at 2 p.m. to close out the weekend. 

Wallace, with the most years on the team, looks to give it her all in the next game. 

“You don’t want to have regrets,” Wallace said. “Each point is its own point, and you can leave that point either thinking, wow, I did everything I could during that point or you’re going to have regrets. That’s what I want to do for tomorrow’s game: not let anything slip away and be fully on each point.” 

Mara Weisensel goes for the kill
Lauren Wallace serves
Natalie Koke sets the ball for her hitters
Mara Weisensel serves the ball
Lauren Wallace gets the kill
Maria Jose Bustos Garcia gets the set from Natalie Koke