NEW ULM - After beginning the year with 13 consecutive matches away from home, the Martin Luther College volleyball team was eager to get back on the home court.
The Knights did not disappoint in the home opener either, as they defeated the University of Minnesota-Morris 25-19, 25-22, 25-17 in front of a large crowd at MLC.
"First of all, it was a fabulous crowd," coach Rebecca Cox said. "It was so fun to be back in front of a home crowd again."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Martin Luther College’s Heather Dannel (12) spikes the ball as Hannah Knott (21) and Alyssa Haugen (17) of the University of Minnesota, Morris set up a block attempt during the second game Friday at MLC in New Ulm.
The Knights got the crowd involved early as they opened the game with a 7-1 lead, forcing a Morris timeout.
"It is very important to always get up on them, but we knew they would come back," Cox said. "It was a great tone-setter and confidence builder for us. One of our goals this week was to start strong, so that was really a positive for us."
MLC never trailed in the first set and rode the strong start to a 25-19 victory.
The Knights opened up with another strong start in the second set, taking a quick 6-0 lead and forcing another early Morris timeout.
Morris punched back by scoring eight straight points after the timeout and continued to put the pressure on MLC by going up 18-14. However, the Knights closed out the second set on an 11-4 run to take the second set and a commanding two set lead.
In the third set, MLC got four kills from both Leah Nass and Rebecca Engelbrecht to lead the Knights to a 25-17 victory, and defeated Morris by sweeping all three sets.
This was the conference opener for both teams, and it was a big way to start off the conference season for MLC.
"It's huge when we play Morris, because the last couple of years we have battled for that third or fourth spot (in the UMAC)," Cox said. "So to come in and get that victory and put ourselves up on them was awesome."
Engelbrecht led the Knights in kills with 14, while Rachel Hein had eight, Heather Danell had seven and Leah Nass pitched in with six kills in a balanced effort for the Knights.
Miranda Maasz also had a nice night with 28 set assists to go along with nine digs. Nass, Hein and Larson all had five blocks for MLC.
The Knights improve to 7-7 (1-0) and will return to action at 1 p.m. today as they host Crown College.