WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: On a day when both schools accepted an invitation to join the Big Sky Conference beginning in 2012-13, Southern Utah suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the North Dakota Fighting Sioux on Monday night. The loss continues a five-game skid for the T-Birds, as SUU drops to 11-13 on the season.
"We played better in this game than the first time we played them," SUU head coach Debby Baker said after the match, alluding to a 3-0 loss to UND earlier in the year. "I also thought Alissa (Youart) did a good job of filling in for Jazmine (Ma'afala) on the front line tonight."
Southern Utah got out to a great start, opening the match with a Ma'afala service ace and then capitalizing on a Fighting Sioux attacking error to take an early 2-0 lead. The margin grew to as much as seven, 18-11, late in the set as UND suffered another attacking error.
However, North Dakota came back with an 11-2 run to tie the game at 20-20 and then take the lead 22-20. Southern Utah answered, tying the game at 22-22 on a Caitlin Jensen service ace and then took the lead 23-22 on a Hailey Moore kill.
The teams then battled through six ties at 23-23, 24-24, 25-25, 26-26, 27-27 and 28-28 before UND closed out the set 30-28 with a block and SUU attacking error.
Southern Utah took the first point of the second set on a Brittney Clark kill, but fell behind the Sioux at the 11-10 mark. The Thunderbirds came back to tie the game late at 21-21 and 23-23 and then had to fight off a North Dakota set point at 24-23 to tie the game at 24-24. Southern Utah then finished the set much like UND in the first with a block and a North Dakota miscue to take the stanza 26-24.
SUU couldn't find its hitting vibe in the fourth set, recording seven kills and seven errors to hit .000 en route to a 25-11 defeat. The two teams were neck-and-neck in the fourth set, but a 4-1 run at 10-10 gave North Dakota a 14-11 advantage, forcing a Southern Utah timeout.
The Thunderbirds whittled the UND lead down to one point, 19-18, on an Analaine Pelaez kill, but it would be as close as the home team would come as North Dakota finished the set on a 6-2 run to secure the victory 25-20.
Pelaez led all hitters with 15 kills as Annika Smed paced the Fighting Sioux with 12. Jensen was tops for the T-Birds with 19 digs, trailing match leader Smed for UND with 20.
Southern Utah will return to Summit League play this weekend in the final road trip of the year for the T-Birds. SUU is scheduled to play at Oral Roberts on Friday followed by a match at Centenary on Saturday night. Game time for both contests is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT).
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