UMC Women's Volleyball Swept by Northern State

Natalie Dillon
Crookston Times

The University of Minnesota Crookston Women’s Volleyball team got swept by conference opponent Northern State University in their final game of their Cancer Awareness Weekend.  

The Golden Eagles faced a tough offense, led by Natalia Szybinska and Sally Gaul who both had 11 kills on the day. Despite a plan of attack, the Golden Eagles couldn’t shut the two players down. 

“It starts with our serve,” head coach Sarah Morgan said. “If we can get them out of system, make their setter run balls down, she can’t deliver the perfect ball. A good hitter is really hard to defend. They’re a really good offensive team and they showed that today.” 

The Wolves took the lead in the first set, as their first three points came from kills by Gaul. Kills by Mara Weisensel, Bailey Schaefer, and Natalie Koke kept the Golden Eagles in the game before Northern State went on a four-point run to increase their lead to 14-7.  

Within the run, Szybinska had two aces. She totaled five on the day.  

Coach Morgan called a timeout to curb the Wolves momentum and give her team advice on the serve. 

“The serve receive is all about fighting,” Morgan said. “If you let the ball play you, and you’re a little bit soft, bad things can happen. If you go aggressively and you go and attack that ball, you’re going to have a much better chance at it.” 

Out of the timeout, UMC scored on a kill by Charlee Krieg, but the Wolves wouldn’t stop. They controlled the remainder of the set and won 25-12.  

The Golden Eagles came out strong in the second set, nabbing the first three points, highlighted by an ace from Koke.  

Koke came alive in the second set as she had two kills that helped the Golden Eagles maintain the lead. Her tips found the open spot on the floor both times. 

“It’s all due to my hitters and the way they run their stuff,” Koke said. “If I call them on something and they run it, that moves the blocker over and gives me an opportunity to attack. It’s not so much about what I’m seeing, it’s how my teammates are playing around me and how I see the block going.” 

A kill by Szybinska knotted the game at 9, and some miscommunication from the Golden Eagles gave the Wolves a lead they didn’t relinquish. Northern State cruised through the second set, unaffected by two UMC timeouts, and won 25-13.  

The Wolves grabbed an early 6-2 lead in the third set with a momentum-changing call. Weisensel and Krieg blocked the ball, but Krieg crossed the center line, giving the point to Northern State.  

The Golden Eagles fought to keep the set close at 9-12 as Grace Arndorfer had a solo block, Weisensel had a kill and Krieg and Weisensel doubled up for another block.  

The Wolves took a decisive 23-12 lead in the end with a six-point run. The Golden Eagles went down fighting as they had a short run of their own with an ace from Bojana Stekovic and kill from Lauren Wallace. The final set ended in a 25-15 Northern State victory. 

Weisensel led the team in kills with 9, followed by Bailey Schaefer with 8. Natalie Koke paved the way with 20 assists and 7 digs. Teammate Madison Klimek added 8 digs.  

UMC travels to Minot State Friday, October 22 to take on the Beavers in another conference matchup.  

Despite the losing streak, the Golden Eagles look to stay positive on the road. 

“At the end of the day, we are here to play volleyball,” Schaefer said. “It’s the best job we can have, and we just have to have fun with it no matter what.” 

Natalie Koke serves the ball
Lauren Wallace receives the serve
Madison Klimek receives the serve
Charlee Krieg and Mara Weisensel go up for the block
Mara Weisensel with the solo block
Natalie Koke sets the ball