Panther Comeback Falls Just Short In Five-Set Loss To NDSU
MADISON, Wis. - Brynn Joki had 20 kills and North Dakota State hit .423 in the deciding fifth set to claim a 25-21, 25-21, 18-25, 21-25, 16-14 win over the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Friday night in the opening match of the InnTowner Invitational.
The Panthers (4-4) battled back after dropping the first two frames but could not overcome the near-perfect effort of the Bison in the fifth set.
But NDSU had 11 kills and did not commit a hitting error in the deciding set. In fact, the only Bison error in the fifth frame came on a missed serve.
"It's not a win but there was a lot of progress we made," Milwaukee head coach Susie Johnson said. "It was quite something to watch. It was very hard to coach our team in the first half of that match and then for our team to become so much better with our passing, our defense got better, everything got better. In the end, there are little breaks sometimes that happen to get that win and they just didn't fall our way."
UWM's defense greatly improved in sets three and four. In fact, the Bison were hitting .338 after two frames but then hit just .171 in the third and .133 in the fourth before NDSU got back on track in the fifth.
Anna Bartz had 19 digs to lead three Panthers in double figures in the category. UWM had just five blocks in the match, while NDSU was able to slow the Milwaukee attack thanks to 12 blocks.
NDSU led most of the way in the fifth set but was never able to create much distance. The Bison led 12-9 following a kill by Megan Lambertson and 13-11 after a UWM error. But the Panthers were able to fight back and tie the set at 13 and 14 thanks to kills by Egerer. NDSU had the final burst, though, as a kill by Jenni Fassbender was followed by a Panther hitting error, allowing the Bison to wrap up the match.
The Panthers dug themselves an early hole and could never fully get out of it in dropping the first set. The Bison scored eight of the first 11 points of the frame and still led 14-9 after a block. The NDSU lead grew to 16-10 on a kill by Fassbender and was still 19-14 after a UWM error. The Panthers were able to fight back to within 23-21 after a kill by Kolinske but a kill by Carissa Whalen and an ace from Andrea Henning allowed the Bison to wrap up the first set.
Milwaukee got off to a good start in the second frame but could not hang on. The Panthers scored the first two points and then led 8-5 after two-straight kills from Egerer. But the Bison took the lead back for good at 10-9 on a kill by Catherine Yager and then led 16-11 following a kill by Lauren Cammack. UWM was able to close within 21-19 on a tip kill from Kayla Price but NDSU finished the set by scoring four of the final six points to go up by two sets.
The Panthers got back in the match with a strong performance in the third set. Milwaukee scored the first four points and then led 10-4 after an ace by Hannah Blanchard. The lead grew to 13-6 on a block by Nicole Latzig and was still 18-11 on a kill by Maggie Dunbar. NDSU did pull within 22-18 but the Panthers quickly countered with the next three points to win the set going away.
UWM used a decisive run to take over the fourth set. In fact, the Panthers looked to be out of it down 18-12 following a block by Cammack. But Milwaukee responded with the next 10 points to claim control. Kolinske sparked the run with three-straight kills and wound up with five kills in the burst. Price also got into the act with a tip kill at the net and an ace by Bartz finished off the run at 22-18. NDSU was able to crawl back to within 23-21 but a serve error by the Bison followed by an ace from Kolinske drew the Panthers even in the match.
Things were then tight throughout the fifth set, with the Bison able to make the final push and pull out the match in a battle of two teams picked to win their respective leagues.
Milwaukee continues its weekend in Madison with two more matches tomorrow. The Panthers face Drake at 10 a.m. before taking on Wisconsin at 7 p.m.