Neeb tallies 1,000th dig, MLC sweeps Northland

NEW ULM – Emily Neeb picked the right day to record her 1,000th-career dig.

The senior libero from Gilbert, Arizona, notched the milestone in the second set of Martin Luther College’s 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 victory against Northland College in an Upper Midwest Athletic Conference volleyball match on Saturday. With the match as part of the school’s Homecoming, Neeb’s parents were in attendance to watch their daughter’s accomplishment.

“This is actually only the second game my dad has been to because they live out in Arizona,” Neeb said. “Both my parents were here, it was really special.”

Neeb tallied nine digs in the match for the Knights (8-11, 3-0 UMAC), who have now won four-straight matches since losing to Bethany Lutheran on Sept. 20 in a designated nonconference match.

“She’s been battling for four years for us as a libero and [defensive specialist],” MLC coach Rebecca Cox said of Neeb. “She’s the lone senior and last year she was our lone upperclassman. Just in terms of leadership, she’s done a great job and obviously we’re very happy that she managed to get that dig. She’ll have quite a few more, so I think she’ll be moving up the career list.”

The Knights overpowered the Lumberjills (3-13, 0-3) in terms of depth, able to play 14 total players compared to their nine. This depth kept the Knights going later on in the sets when the Lumberjills were getting more tired and unable to keep up in some points.

“It’s a lot of help, even just in practice having people there to be able to scrimmage,” Neeb said. “I can’t even imagine having that small of a team and trying to be able to play with each other. It’s really a great thing to have so many people working hard.”

In the first set, MLC led by as much as 12 points before allowing a 6-2 run that closed the gap to 23-15. However, a kill by Grace Schultz and a service ace from Jade St. Germaine put the first set away for MLC 25-15.

Neeb recorded her 1,000th dig on the final serve of a string from Emily Byhardt that ended in a kill from Julia Jehn to make it 15-7. Northland scored two more points before a kill from Jenna Miller gave MLC the serve again.

MLC managed to take the set despite committing three-straight attack errors, giving up a service ace and then committing another attack error to allow Northland to pull to within 20-17. Kills by Miller and Kira Grev secured it for MLC.

St. Germaine helped rally MLC to a win in Set 3, tallying six kills, while Grev and Ruth Buchholz both had four apiece in the frame.

“We’ve been really excited about it,” Neeb said of starting 3-0 in conference play. “We worked really hard in the pre-conference season and we were kind of falling short there. So it’s been really good to finally get some wins.”

Overall, the Knights committed 15 attack errors and five service errors in the match.

“We had a few too many unforced errors, but it’s a good victory,” Cox said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on and it’s a good team win.”

The Lumberjills had a sour day at the net, accounting for 24 attack errors with 24 total kills to even out its hitting percentage at .000 on the day.

St. Germaine finished with a match-high 11 kills, while Grev had nine kills and 11 digs and Schultz had eight kills. Heidi Moldenhauer had 18 set assists, while Byhardt had 13.

MLC will play a nonconference match against Macalester at 7 p.m. Tuesday at St. Paul.

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