Bethany Lutheran gets past Martin Luther College

NEW ULM – The Martin Luther College volleyball team played a solid match against rival Bethany Lutheran College.

But in the win column, where it matters, MLC came up short as Bethany won 12-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-23 in a designated nonconference volleyball match on Tuesday.

Junior outside hitter Rachel Sorensen and freshman middle blocker Megan Rutt both amassed 15 kills apiece to lead the offensive attack for the Vikings (4-10).

“We struggled to get a block going,” MLC coach Rebecca Cox said. “We had 14 blocks on Saturday against Morris. We had five today and three of them came in the last set.”

The Knights (4-11) played commandingly in the first set, using a 9-3 lead to give them a 14-7 lead before closing the set on an 11-5 run.

From there, however, the Vikings slowly stripped away the Knights’ momentum.

“I’m not dissatisfied with the things that we did,” Cox said. “We played an excellent first set and things were flowing really well, we maybe had a little tendency [to relax].”

Rutt, who was a standout athlete at Tri-City United, led the Vikings’ surge in the second game with seven of her 15 kills, including four during a 7-2 run that gave the Vikings a 16-13 lead. Her first and second kills of that run accounted for a 12-12 tie and a 13-12 lead, which was the Vikings’ first all night long.

“We struggled to stop [Rutt],” Cox said. “I kept asking the girls because I couldn’t see from the back side exactly if it was going between us or it looked like we were just a little late getting up. But in the fourth set, we started popping it up and give our defense an opportunity to get underneath it.”

Bethany started to take control in the third set before MLC inched its way back to a possible victory. MLC tied the match at 22-22 before a ball-handling error gave it a 23-22 lead and a block by Moriah Hackbarth put it at set point.

However, a kill by sophomore outside hitter Rebekka Olsen sparked a 4-0 run that allowed Bethany to take the set 26-24 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

MLC again threatened in the fourth set, tying the match 20-20 after a tip kill by junior middle hitter Jenna Miller. However, Sorensen helped put it away for Bethany in notching three kills during its 5-3 run that ended the match.

Junior outside Jade St. Germaine led the Knights with 16 kills and junior outside Kira Grev had 13 kills and a team-high 21 digs. Freshman Emily Byhardt led the team with 23 set assists, while junior Heidi Moldenhauer had 18 set assists.

Olsen, who was an All-Conference hitter at Minnesota Valley Lutheran, had five kills for Bethany.

MLC hosts St. Catherine at 7 p.m. on Friday.