Ranked #15 in the nation among Division II collegiate schools, Mankato women’s volleyball squad thrived behind sophomore setter Brittany Stammer’s astounding 55 assists. The Parkside Rangers (9-1) entered Friday night against powerhouse Minnesota State Mankato (7-1) on a nine-match winning streak and a record of 1-0 in the UW-Parkside Rangers Volleyball Invitational. Dominating in almost every category, the Mavericks rolled to a 3-1 win over the Rangers.
Parkside opened the day with a convincing victory over St. Cloud State 3-1.
Despite a difficult loss, the Rangers upbeat attitude would demonstrate their new-found poise under head coach Michele Benoit.
“We’re competing at a higher level after last year’s 10-22 record,” assured sophomore Cassy Marx. “We’re showing more trust in each other and that’s in large part a testament to coach Benoit.”
Senior middle hitter Jennifer Johnson of the Rangers fueled their attack with six kills in Game 1. However, it was Mankato’s offensive prowess that would take control of the match early. Stamer’s staggering 16 assists opened up the Maverick’s potent offense as they took Game 1 by a margin of 25-18.
Execution in every facet of the game was critical to a Parkside victory in Game 2. Despite more productive statistics in the majority of categories for the Mavericks, Parkside’s exceptional chemistry would prove to be a far more valuable asset. Highlighted by a few miraculous digs by sophomore libero Stacie Bower, the Rangers took an early lead which they nursed throughout the game. Relying on solid defensive execution, Parkside benefited from five blocks as a team comparing to the Mavericks’ zero. Despite a late Mankato surge, the Rangers reversed the result of Game 1 by way of a 25-18 victory.
Another quick start for the Maverick’s in Game 3 forced pressure on Benoit’s squad to keep pace. Mankato’s senior right side hitter Ally Kwikkel topped six kills for the second straight game as the Maverick’s potent offense once again witnessed a 16 assist gem of a performance from Stamer. Totaling only thee digs, Parkside’s defense seemed to have no answer for Mankato’s dominating offensive attack. The Rangers failed to score 20 points for the second time in the match as they stumbled to a 16-25 loss at the hands of the Mavericks.
Lifted by a slew of service points by the standout Stamer, Mankato utilized their momentum to jump out to a 12-6 lead in Game 4. Despite an improved effort at penetrating the net by the Rangers, Mankato never let up their aggression as their ability to fight off Parkside runs really paid off. Racking up their 64th kill of the match, the Mavs finished off a remarkable performance in style as they romped the Rangers 25-19.
Parkside setter Andrea Gust led the Rangers in assists with 23; Johnson added 12 kills for the Rangers. Kwikkel led all hitters with a solid 17 kills.
The Rangers kick off Saturday with two games slated on their tourney schedule. They open the day with a match at 12:30 hosting Northwest Missouri State.
“We’re learning very quickly what it takes to compete against the top tier teams around the country,” said Benoit. “It was certainly a valuable experience.”