UND Soars to Sweep of Eastern Washington: Three Thoughts

Coming into this one, the Fighting Hawks showed they could hang with top talent in their four matchups in Texas last weekend. One thing they wanted to build on was limiting errors. The first set provided the best example of that as UND limited itself to two errors while soaring past Eastern Washington 25-10. The team hit well in the first set, hitting 36.7 percent with a mere two attack errors. That set the pace for the rest of the way. UND has a doubleheader tomorrow to round out their participation in the UND Classic. The Fighting Hawks first take on Western Carolina, then later on in the evening they take on Louisiana Tech.

Here are some thoughts on today and what to expect tomorrow.

  1. Kayla Williams is going to make a claim to best six rotation hitter in the Summit League if she keeps up her pace. She had a superb game and was all over the court for the Fighting Hawks. She had a double-double and finished with 12 kills and 13 digs. She was there when Eastern made a few mini runs in the second set. Her versatility complements the superb blockers and front line of UND Volleyball.
  2. Jordan Vail has shown that she is on track to have another superb year up front for UND. Her hieght and versatility in the rotation are a proven asset for this team, and today they were on full display. She hit at a 40 percent pace today with 16 kills.
  3. Heading into tomorrow’s doubleheader, look to see how UND plays with limiting its errors, a key component to this one. Head coach Mark Pryor has made this a key component of the culture he has instilled, and it will be a key thing to watch tomorrow as UND plays a doubleheader.

UND Volleyball: Retooling with Kayla Williams

(Photo Courtesy of Russell Hons/UND Athletics)

On Tuesday night, UND Volleyball fans got to see their first look at a revamped 2018 squad trying to carry its Big Sky success over to the Summit League.  This retooled squad comes with transfer Kayla Williams. The former University of Connecticut star came to North Dakota for this season and looks to take over one of the key outside hitter roles vacated by UND’s large senior class. She has already produced an immediate impact with 23 kills (16,7) in the Fighting Hawks’ first two matches, and another double digit kill effort to help UND win its first match of the season against Green Bay this morning.

Upon her transfer, VolleyMob noted some key statistics from Williams’ previous season with UCONN:

“This past season, Williams missed eight matches yet still led the Huskies in kills (310, 3.83 per set) and aces (33, 0.41 per set). She also notched 228 digs (2.81 per set) and 33 blocks (0.41 per set).”

On recruiting Williams to UND, Fighting Hawks Head Coach Mark Pryor described the importance of being able to attract talent like Kayla to UND. Williams can play all six rotations and is an outside hitter. Last year, she finished third in the American Athletic Conference in points per set. Having Williams helps UND maintain its competitive nature going into the new season in the conference. Look for the Staten Island, NY native to have an immediate impact on the Fighting Hawks this season.

From Williams’ perspective, she was drawn to UND due to the superb culture that Coach Pryor has built. She was contacted after the start of 2018. Williams came to Grand Forks during the one of the coldest parts of the year to check things out. She came when the temperature was -19 degrees outside. Atmosphere and the team, definitely not the weather first drew her to this campus to play.

Kayla describes her style on the court as ” hard working, persistent, and a little annoying.” That superb tenacity has already payed immediate dividends with her contributions to the score sheet in all three matches this season.

Away from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, Williams appreciates the design of the campus and its overall home-like feeling it provides.

Look for more from Kayla this season as she has already proven to provide an immediate impact on the court.

 

 

UND Flies Past Eastern Washington to go 4-0 in the Big Sky

Photo Credit: (Tyler Ingham for UNDSports.com)

In front of 1289 fans at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (19-2, 4-0) swept (25-15, 25-12,25-20) the Eastern Washington Eagles (5-8, 2-2)

This win marks the 17th consecutive win at the Betty for the Hawks. They have won the last 32 sets at home.

The Fighting Hawks raced out to a quick lead due to their ability to limit errors. Four of their seven attack errors came in the first set. UND had 12 kills on 34 swings in the first half.

Coach Pryor mentioned the need to improve “ball security” and limit mistakes after the match against Idaho. The Fighting Hawks would replicate this formula in the second and third sets to take the match. Coach Pryor’s side had an attack error free second set.

The Fighting Hawks had to battle in the third set to close out Eastern Washington. The Eagles had a few runs, and forced UND to use its only timeout of the match. North Dakota benefited, once again, from its strong defense to short-circuit a lot of Eagle attacks. Eastern Washington only hit .073 in the third set (14 kills on 55 swings with 10 attack errors).

This attack error free second set was the first for the Fighting Hawks since the second round of the 2017 Big Sky Tournament on November 18, 2016.

UND was paced throughout by Faith Dooley who lead the way on offense for the Hawks with nine kills on seventeen swings. The Wheatland, ND native hit above .500 (.529) for the second match this week.

Four players pitched in big defensive evenings for the Fighting Hawks. Teodora Tepavac, Tamera Merseli, Alivia Fraase,and Sydney Griffin each had double digit digs (15,14,11,10).

Once again the Fighting Hawks were able to limit their attack errors to single digits. UND had seven attack errors on the day which tied its season low. The Hawks last had seven attack errors against George Washington on September 8 in the UND Classic. Eastern Washington had 30 attack errors on the day.

The Fighting Hawks head on the road next weekend to take on Sacramento State, and Portland State as they look to extend their undefeated record in the Big Sky.

Check out Faith Dooley’s thoughts on the game, the win streak at home, and more.

 

 

 

 

UND Sweeps Idaho Keyed by a Trio of Double-Digit Kill Evenings

(Photo credit to Joel Helbling for UNDSports.com)

In front of a crowd of 1,333 fans anxious to see the first home match at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center in almost three weeks, the Fighting Hawks (18-2 2-1) swept (25-22, 25-18, 25-21) the Idaho Vandals (7-7, 2-1) in their Big Sky home opener. This win gave the Fighting Hawks their 16th straight home win at the Betty.

The Fighting Hawks persevered through an eight error first set with 20 kills to put the Vandals on their heels early. As the match went on, the Fighting Hawks were able to slowly control their attack errors and the game.

In the second set, the Fighting Hawks hit .500 as they were able to put the Vandals down 25-18 going into halftime. This allowed the team the chance to avoid going to four sets. Given that UND has played 20 matches, maintaining their stamina is becoming increasingly important. Coach Pryor noted the issues with fatigue, and the importance of closing Idaho out in three sets.

Seniors Faith Dooley, Tamera Merseli, and sophomore Ashley Brueggeman each (13,12,and 10) notched double digit kills on the evening.

The Wheatland, ND native was the most efficient Hawk on the offensive side of the ball  on the evening. She notched her 12 kills on 19 swings with zero attack errors. She hit .632 on the night and was a constant force for Head Coach Mark Pryor’s team throughout the match. Pryor noted how much Faith has improved over her time at UND, as she has put herself just outside the top five of UND’s career kills list.

Tamera Merseli had her ninth double-double of the season this evening with 14 kills and 10 digs. The Belgrade,Serbia native had a keen eye for placing the ball as she caught Idaho’s defenders off guard with well placed kills.

The Fighting Hawks are back in action this Saturday at the Betty against Eastern Washington. The match is scheduled for 11 AM.