If there was one safe bet in the Saint Mary’s University volleyball team’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference-opener against St. Catherine, it was that no lead was safe.
And in a match filled with momentum shifts and lead changes, it was only fitting that the Cardinals’ conference-opener would need a fifth set to determine a winner.
Saint Mary’s dropped five of the first six points in that decisive fifth set, and true to form, that Wildcat lead was far from safe, as Saint Mary’s stormed back to post a 15-10 win and earn the 3-2 conference win at SCU’s Butler Center.
Saint Mary’s trailed 17-14 in the first set, rallied to knot the set at 17-17, only to have St. Catherine rattle off eight straight points for the 25-17 victory.
Saint Mary’s appeared to have set No. 2 well under control, owning a 17-8 advantage, but St. Catherine put on another late-set charge to get within one, 23-22. This time, however, the Cardinals held on to even the match with a 25-22 win.
St. Catherine dominated early in the third set, and held the Cardinals at bay late to regain the upper hand with a 25-22 win.
The fourth set proved eerily similar to the first, with the two teams deadlocked at 17-17 — again. This time around, the Cardinals were the ones making the late move, scoring eight of the final 13 points to win 25-22 — and force the fifth and deciding set.
St. Catherine posted the first three points and eight of the first 11 for an 8-3 advantage to open the final set. Saint Mary’s rattled off five unanswered points to knot the set at 8-8 and closed out the set on a 7-2 run to seal the victory, 15-10.
Coral Anderson delivered a career-high 20 kills and Linnaea Wallis chipped in her second double-double of the season with 18 kills and 21 digs to pace the Cardinal offensive attack. Mandy Schmidt joined the career-high parade, notching her first collegiate double-double with career-bests in both assists (46) and digs (13), and Lewiston native Ciarra McNally — who notched a career-high 17 kills in the Cardinals’ 3-1 win over Concordia last Saturday — added 10 kills.
The Cardinals (1-0 MIAC, 2-1 overall) are now off until next Wednesday, when they open the home portion of their schedule with a 7 p.m. conference matchup against Bethel at the Saint Mary’s Gym.