Thu, Sep. 27, 2012 - [Volleyball]
(20-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-17, 15-12)
No one put the Loras College volleyball team's second win in the Iowa Conference and second on their home floor into the win column until the final point was on the floor. Even then, it took a second to sink in that the back-and-forth slugfest with the Luther Norse was over, and, into the win column.
When the Duhawks put up their eighth and final block of the night – to win the blocking battle against the league's top net defense from Decorah, 8-7 - the Athletics and Wellness Center burst into a relieved and celebratory Homecoming cheer for their team.
Both the Norse and Duhawks entered the night at 1-1 in league play and were looking to remain one game behind the league's leaders.
Each of the first three sets were stuck somewhere between ‘neither team wants to take control' and ‘both teams look pretty good for a few points in a row'.
The visitors scored the final three points of the first frame to take the early 1-0 lead, and then the risk of falling behind 2-0 on their home floor stared the Duhawks in the face in a tightly contested second set. Loras would prevail, needing 26 points to claim the victory. Loras trailed 23-22 when they took their final timeout and scored three of the final four points to knot the match at 1-1.
Set #3 continued the tug-of-war. This time, the Norse took the momentum back by winning 25-23. The teams began working in new subs and finding ways to build leads during the third set, but Hannah Theisen (team high 14 kills) and Luther pushed back in front, 2-1.
The fourth set was where Loras looked most in control of their own game and evened the match. Loras hit .276 in that set and worked around the league's best statistical blockers to draw even. Meanwhile, Luther struggled, committing seven errors and falling behind midway through the set. The Duhawks would go on to claim the match's largest margin of victory at 25-17.
The hosts picked up where they left off in the final set, building an 11-4 lead in the final frame.
Then Luther pushed back, making it 11-7 and forcing the Duhawks to take a timeout that they had hoped they wouldn't need. At 14-8, things looked to be almost over, but the Norse wouldn't let go of the potential ‘W'. They rattled off four straight points to make it 14-12 before the final block was sent down by Kenzie Goedken and Jillian Wulf.
"You have stay up, be positive," Cassie Crabill said after the match about the final few points Luther scored in the fifth set while they sat on match point.
"You can't let anyone be down on themselves. We have to tell each other ‘you've got the next ball' because getting down on yourself doesn't help anyone."
The Duhawks helped each other to their second IIAC win of 2012.
"This is a huge confidence builder for us," Kehe said after the match. "Last year we went up there (to Luther) and did not look sharp at all."
"We wanted to take care of business on our home floor and knowing how it went last year at their place…was kind of a motivator, too."
When Coach Kehe looked at the remaining schedule for this week, she called Friday's games a "strong test" with UW-Stout and UW-Platteville awaiting at University of Dubuque's gym.
"We'll have a light practice tomorrow and work on a few specific things we want to take care of defensively," Kehe added. "We're working on little things right now…getting the middles involved and opening things up for the players on the outside."