Sensational Smith: Cole Smith’s 3 Point Night Saves a UND Split with 4-3 Win:Recap and Two Thoughts

(Photo Credit Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into tonight, UND needed some more defense, at the end of the second period when Marc Michaelis potted a shorthanded breakaway with .4 seconds left, it looked like we could see a repeat of last Saturday where UND would not be able to hang on to a lead. Cole Smith changed all of that in the third period. “Smitty” was able to capitalize on a misplay from Minnesota State netminder Dryden McKay in the third period and put the puck into a wide open net 11:35 into the third. That marker was the final goal in a series where a goal was scored against a goalie in five out of six periods.. In front of 11,438 fans tonight at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, UND used some superb play from Cole Smith with his first three point night (2G, 1A) to ensure the win. Adam Scheel got his first win for the Fighting Hawks in net as the rookie netminder made 20 saves on 23 shots.

Early on, the script was the same for UND as an early goal on some sublime passing on the power play gave them their first lead of the night. Nick Jones took a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi on the faceoff, found Gabe Bast who hooked up with Grant Mismash. The Predators’ prospect made no mistake on a one-timer from the point to give UND a 1-0 lead early on. 38 seconds later, Cole Smith was able to find the back of the net at even strength to make it a 2-0 UND game.

The Mavericks would answer back, aided by some UND penalties as Julian Napravnik and Max Coatta each scored on the power play to end the second period. In the second period, Gabe Bast was able to find a rebound from Mark Senden and send UND to a 3-2 lead that would last until the Michaelis goal at the end of the second. The Fighting Hawks were able to hold on after the Smith Goal in the third and tightened up defensively to ensure the win.

The Offense Returns

This weekend was the best offensive output for UND all season. Now how can the Fighting Hawks replicate that? I thought Grant Mismash on the point looked superb on the power play and he showcased the true goal-scoring prowess UND knows he has in him this weekend. UND got help up and down the lineup as Matt Kiersted had a superb effort this weekend putting up three points in two games (1G, 2A). Having him compliment Jacob Bernard-Docker on the back end is a bonus for UND. All of this available depth and improvement from sophomores like Mismash and Kiersted will go a long way to determining where UND finishes this year.

Goaltending 

Yes, neither goalie had their best weekend. Adam Scheel looked strong on Saturday night and made a lot of grade-a saves to keep UND ahead. Peter Thome did not have the best Friday night before getting pulled for Scheel. That being said, I think UND has two strong goalies who both play tall and calm styles which should help the Fighting Hawks. So what does this mean for the rest of the season? I think for the time being, a platoon is the best choice at least through the midpoint. Both goalies have shown the high points in their game, and both will show them this season. I think a platoon will limit whomever takes the net full time going into the second half and allow them to be a bit more rested for the stretch run.

 

UND loses 7-4 to Minnesota State: Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Last night at a loud Ralph Engelstad Arena, 11,304 fans saw UND score four goals, their best offensive output of the season. They also saw the Fighting Hawks give up six goals against UND plus one additional empty net goal to end up losing 7-4. A lot of good things happened for the Fighting Hawks last night. The power play found two goals on five chances. Colin Adams got his first goal of the season wiring a puck home in the slot from a nice Nick Jones feed. Matt Kiersted had one of his best offensive games from the blue line adding a goal and assist to the tally. That said UND did not win. What does this mean for tonight and going forward for the Fighting Hawks? Read on to find out.

The Results Will Change

In hockey in general, teams that generate more than double the amount of shot attempts (75-37) typically win their games. Especially when of those shot attempts 50 are not blocked and only ten are missed. UND hit two posts close in to give the Fighting Hawks 38 total shots on net last night. Why does this statistic matter so much? It is the genesis of advanced stats like Corsi and Fenwick that show UND, despite their record is playing quite well in terms of generating offense.

The Personnel Will Change 

Last night showed me something. Like every UND team, and most every other college hockey team, this team is still finding right combinations and units that give them the best chance to win every night. Last night, Gavin Hain and Casey Johnson did not play. We could easily one or both of them in the lineup tonight. This team typically tries different lineups throughout the season to see how its players are developing and find the best combinations for postseason play.

The Goalies and Defense

Peter Thome has done a lot of good for UND. Adam Scheel will do a lot of good for UND. Both did not have the best game last night. However, neither received a lot of help from the defense or lack of depth last night as UND was reeling without Rhett Gardner who had to leave the game for a checking from behind major 6:59 into the game last night. On the third Minnesota State goal last night, Thome was screened.

He was screened by Colton Poolman and could not see the Max Coatta shot. Both goalies obviously want to play better, and if the third period is an indication, they both have things to build on. The lone goal in the third was an empty net goal to make it 7-4.

Point being, the defense and Scheel played decent in the third to complement a hard-charging forecheck that could not find the back of the net. Things will improve. UND can get their first win tonight at 7:07 PM.

Bemidji State Earns 1-1 Tie on Late Goal Against UND Saturday Night: Four Reasons to Be Optimistic for UND Going Forward

(Photo credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Coming into Saturday night, UND had something to prove. They had plenty of chances against Bemidji State on Friday night but could not come up with a win to open up the season. Now coming home in front of a packed Ralph Engelstad Arena, the Fighting Hawks wanted to get out to a good start and build on that. They got the good start. Nashville Predators’ prospect Grant Mismash converted an early marker to give UND a 1-0 lead.

That lead lasted most of the night, and UND was unable to build upon it with insurance markers. That in ability to add insurance tallies came back to bite the Fighting Hawks. In the third period, 15:46 in, Charlie Combs of the Beavers took a feed from Brendan Harris and wired a perfect shot past three players and rookie netminder Adam Scheel to tie things up. Neither team would find the twine in overtime so the game ended as a 1-1 draw. UND finishes the weekend 0-1-1 to open up the season. The Fighting Hawks take on Minnesota State Mankato next week for their first full non-conference home series this season. Below are a few thoughts on why UND fans should yes, not be happy about the result, but remain encouraged for the season ahead.

It’s Only One Week 

I know that slogan gets stale real fast around here. Especially with UND just barely missing the tournament because they let one or two more games get away then they should have during the regular season. That being said, it was the season opener. UND has a large freshman class all vying for time. Adam Scheel looked good in net last night making timely saves and even distributing the puck quite well to key some attacks. Having a strong Scheel to backup Peter Thome can only help this team stay fresh in the long run.

There Is Now Tape 

Yes UND had a lot of chances against Manitoba. Tape in this sense is tape playing games that count. The Fighting Hawks now can see how their special teams set up, and diagnose issues to get more chances on the power play to find the back of the net.

Defensive Matchup

Bemidji State is legendary for their ability to block shots. Last night alone they blocked 15 of UND’s 50 attempts. Now that UND has seen arguably the most defensive-minded team they will play all year, they will be able to take some ideas from this series and apply them forward. Other teams the Fighting Hawks play will have more forward skill, but not many teams left on UND’s schedule sell out on defense as much as Bemidji State does nightly. Should UND play Bemidji State or a similarly situated defensive team from say, Atlantic Hockey, in the NCAA Tournament, they now have film on what gameplan can work against a defensive team.

Its October 

Yes, themes from the first two weekends have emerged similar to how last year ended. Lack of insurance markers, inability to hold leads, and lack of depth scoring are some of those themes. That being said, UND has played 60 minutes of hockey at home, and generated some good looks last night. Would you like some more to go in? Of course, anyone following this team would. That being said, early on in the year you want results to be there, but in a non-conference game against a decent defensive side, you learn what it will take to win some big games later on. In the NCAA Tournament, teams sell out to block shots especially when other teams are more skilled. That is how Air Force was able to upset St. Cloud State, great goaltending, quick counters and superb defense. They nearly upset the 2018 National Champions, Minnesota Duluth,in the regional final, using a similar setup to what Bemidji State uses. Point being, yes two wins and lots of goals are preferred always by everyone, but absent that you like to see this team’s ability to generate chances, get some timely goaltending, and control faceoffs.

Goals will come for this team, changes will be made, and I still believe this team will return to the NCAA Tournament this year. Let’s see what happens in the next few weeks for UND before jumping ahead and making bold bad predictions.

Questions with UND Goaltending Coach Matt Hrynkiw

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

Since graduating, Matt Hrynkiw has found his way back to UND Hockey as a volunteer goaltending coach. He mentors three goalies this season in sophomore Peter Thome, freshman Adam Scheel, and senior Ryan Anderson. Below are some questions on Hrynkiw’s background and thoughts on his goalies, and more.

1)What inspired you to take the goalie coach job when Karl went to Syracuse?

Honestly, I felt extremely fortunate to even be considered as a successor for Karl.  Karl Goehring is a brilliant hockey mind and had the total respect and admiration of every goalie that he worked with. When Brad approached me about the opportunity it was a no brainier. I jumped on it right away. Can’t say enough about how much a value the role and the chance to be a continuing part of this incredible program at UND.

2) Tell us a little bit about each of the goalies in the room ? What do they bring to the team on and off the ice?

 

Ryan Anderson is great goalie but an even more incredible guy. He brings the best he has each day and strives to improve while being the best possible teammate. We really value Bob for what he brings with leadership and integrity while also keeping the mood light around the guys when appropriate . As a person, he is quiet and humble but the team and coaching staff hold him in an extremely high regard.

Peter Thome is an extremely focused guy who takes a lot of pride in his craft. He likes to compete and is always looking to improve. He welcomes a challenge and pushes himself extremely hard. He’s an interesting character and welcomes heckling as he is known to give it right back to the source.

Adam Scheel is a tireless worker who also has some very impressive natural ability. He has great instincts and fundamentals which make him tough to beat. Off the ice he seems to always have a grin on his face. He never stirs up too much controversy but always has an interesting opinion if you can get him talking.

3) What inspired you to become a goalie?
Upon getting into hockey, I was on a team that lacked defensive depth so i found i had the greatest impact on the game by playing goal. It also didn’t hurt that my dad and grandfather were both  goaltenders and were encouraging me in that direction.
4)How important to NCAA goalkeeping at-large would approval of a third paid assistant coach be?
It’s obviously very difficult to speculate, but I will say I believe the NCAA already consistently produces some extremely strong goaltending prospects.
5)What is the biggest improvement in Peter Thome’s game from year one?
Peter has worked hard at this flexibility as well as his foot work in demanding situations. I feel he has made significant strides in both.
6)How has UND helped you in your career?
UND has helped me academically and professionally. I was fairly driven person prior to arriving but my time at UND molded me into a professional. Its amazing how much you can learn in 4 years and i am extremely grateful to be associated with the hockey team and the greater community of Grand Forks.
7)What should prospective athletes in any sport know about UND that they may not?
Prospective student athletes should know that this university values great people and I would encourage any prospective athlete to come here and meet the coaches, staff, advisors, and fellow athletes. Its something that’s hard to quantify but I feel you can get a pretty solid feel of the character and values of a people upon face to face meeting.
8)What inspired the staff to look at Adam Scheel?
Adam Scheel has a very good foundation and has excelled at every level. His character and work ethic complement his skills and made it so a number of college teams were rightfully interested in him.
9)What are your professional goals in hockey?
At this point my goal is to keep UND as an elite goaltender producing program in college hockey. Bringing this program another national title also is our greatest focus as a team and staff as well.

 

3-1: How UND Volleyball Lost in Four Sets to Denver and Now What

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Coming into today, UND had been working with its lineup featuring new players. along with key stars like Ashley Brueggeman. Today, the Fighting Hawks saw what winning the Summit League would take. The class of the league, Denver, won a four set victory over them (3-1) on the road this afternoon. Besides the second set, which UND won, the Pioneers finished every other set with at least 17 kills.

One thing that stood out today was the disparity in receive errors which has been a theme this season. UND finished with eight, and Denver finished with only two. In addition, the Pioneers had a distributed attack which keyed them to victory.Three Pioneers finished with double-digit kills. Becca Latham and Tina Boe each had 12 apiece, and Katarina Marinkovic finished with 11 kills. For UND, only Ashley Brueggeman finished above the 10 kill mark with 14. She was the only Fighting Hawk to hit above the .200 clip. She hit .286 on the day.

Going into their Tuesday tilt against Pittsburgh on the road, UND can use this game for a few things. First, they will look to lower their receive errors where possible to keep themselves in more points. Second, they will get this new look lineup some more reps and look to further hone their skill development. Third, they will find out which of their hitters besides Jordan Vail and Ashley Brueggeman they can look for to help provide their offense some more depth. Finally, they will have a chance to see one of the best teams in the country in their court and put good things on tape to further work on to help them out when they get back to Summit League play next weekend. After the Pittsburgh matchup, UND then heads on the road to take on North Dakota State University on Friday October 12 before returning home next Sunday to take on South Dakota back at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

 

NDSU Soccer Utilizes Possession Game to Defeat UND 2-1: A Recap

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

On Sunday in East Grand Forks, North Dakota faced their long time rival NDSU. This time it meant a  lot more. This was the first Division One conference match between the two as Summit League rivals. This game was a contrast between two disparate styles of soccer. NDSU plays a possession game and generates quick chances on counters. UND plays a speed game and looks to run by their opponents. We saw both of those styles on display today.

In the end, NDSU and their style won the day. UND struck first in the second, after a scoreless first half. Katie Moller took a feed from Olivia Knox and deposited one in the back of the net. That was Moller’s tenth tally this season. That goal came 51:11 into the match. Roughly 24 minutes later NDSU was pressuring and forced UND netminder to come off her line to play the ball. She could not get to it and Holly Enderle found Hanna Norman for the equalizer.

The game would not remain tied for long as Malley O’Brien was able to  convert a feed from Holly Enderle to provide the final margin. UND had more chances in the second but was only able to convert once. Olivia Swenson finished the day with five saves, and NDSU netminder Monica Polgar finished with four.

Now UND has to get ready for a tough Summit League road trip against Omaha and Denver. UND has experience playing against teams that like to hold possession in Portland and NDSU. The next challenge will be utilizing their superb depth of speed to play the game on their terms. The result was not what they wanted today, but they picked up some things they can learn from. Look for UND to try to take today’s lessons forward as they head out on the road next weekend.

UND Soars to 3-2 OT Exhibition Win Over Manitoba:Recap and Three Thoughts

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,634 fans at a sold out Ralph Engelstad Arena, North Dakota came off a season with some disappointment. UND had a lot of chances to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament last season but were unable to do so. Tonight we got our first glimpse at the first squad tasked with the goal of bringing UND back to the NCAA tournament in this decade.

UND has a lot to build on this season. While they did not make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 16 seasons last year they did develop a freshman class that showed promise and looks to take the next step this season.  The Fighting Hawks came away with a 3-2 win in overtime. Rhett Gardner was able to convert on the power play to give UND the final margin. Manitoba Goalie Byron Sprigs got the loss and first star honors for the game with 52 saves on 55 shots.

Grant Mismash took the first step forward in the opening frame converting a superb on a superb pass from Colin Adams. Mismash opened the echibition scoring ledger for UND 17:53 into the first period. The Fighting Hawks peppered Manitoba in the first frame with 18. This theme of consistent peppering of Manitoba went on through the rest of the evening. In the second UND put 14 shots on net and in the final frame they put ___ shots on goal. The Fighting Hawks finished with 30 shot attempts in the first compared to a mere 6 for the Bisons of Manitoba.

In the second period, the Fighting Hawks kept pace and did a lot of work to generate numerous chances. They only converted once as Dixon Bowen buried a strong feed from freshman and Flyers prospect, Gavin Hain 3:10 into the first period. Peter Thome split time with Adam Scheel in the second. Thome finished the night with a mere three saves on three Bisons shots. UND kept up the pressure throughout the evening. Scheel did not see any shots fired in his direction during 19:56 of work.

In the third, Thomas Lenchyshyn made it a 2-1 game on a rebound with under 6 minutes left in the game. UND did still generate more chances but did not convert them. A few minutes later, on the next shot, Jonah Wasylak capitalized on a clean feed to set up a mini breakaway in to fire one past Ryan Anderson, who had taken over with about 8 min mins left in the third period. All of this was pretext for overtime where Rhett Gardner sealed the win. Now UND has six days before their home-and-home to open up against Bemidji State. Ryan Anderson was credited with the win for UND tonight.

Three Thoughts

102-18 

Despite the final score being close, this game was one-sided in terms of possession. Multiple Fighting Hawks had superb looks throughout the night. UND finished with 102 shot attempts and played offense most of the night. Forward Nick Jones noted the value of playing a game like this as an exhibition game. UND obviously wanted to convert more chances, but now they can see some things that worked on film and replicate them. That, combined with every skater that dressed besides Josh Rieger and Colin Adams getting a shot on net provide some good things going forward.

Weatherby on the Power Play

Sharks prospect Jasper Weatherby has big shoes to fill. He is wearing number 14, the same number as departed captain Austin Poganski. Like Poganski, Weatherby provides a big, physical, and strong net front presence as needed. On the power play tonight he did that repeatedly, earning an assist on the Gardner goal. Look for Weatherby to have plenty of more time on the power play in his net-front presence. He was hard to miss out there tonight as he was  the biggest skater on the ice

The Vision of JBD 

Like Weatherby, Jacob Bernard Docker has big shoes to fill taking over the number 24 for Christian Wolanin. Like his fellow Senators’ prospect, Bernard-Docker displays superb puck sense and skill in setting up plays. His vision is superb, quite impressive to observe and is already an asset for this 2018-2019 team. Look for more from him as the year goes on.

 

 

10 Questions With MVSU Soccer Star Student Athlete Laadi Issaka

(Photo Credit: MVSU Athletics)

Check out my questions with one of the top goal scorers (second at the time of this article being published with 12) in the nation, Mississippi Valley State University forward, Laadi Issaka. She is an upperclassman at MVSU hoping to lead them to the SWAC tournament. The Devilettes finish their season with six games at home as they look to make their conference tournament with Issaka leading their offense. She has averaged one goal a game so far for MVSU, an average placing her in a tie for third in the nation. Issaka is a Health, Physical Education and Recreation Major who is quite involved in the community and beyond, and is a superb student with a 4.0 GPA. Below are some questions with her answers on her whole experience at MVSU, her background in soccer, and more.

What lead you to choose Valley?

“I got to know about Valley from my friends/former teammates (Ernestina Abambila and Prita Gyasi). They told me a lot about the school and how they are willing to offer me a full scholarship to study and play. And it was always my dream to still do what I love and further my studies, so I accepted it and started the process because I was just some steps away from making my dream come to reality. Valley is more than just a school, it is a place you can call home.”

What has led to your continued offensive success during your time with the Delta Devils?

“I was always told by my mom that when I was a child and anytime I try doing something, I always put every effort that will help me become successful and I will never stop until I reach my goal. I think this still applies to me till now. I’m always determined and ready to work hard to get the end product which is a success and because I am very competitive, I like to win and always want to come out successful in everything I do. I am also passionate about everything that I love to do. And most of all the support I had ever since I came to the Valley. I also don’t let my adversity to distract me but rather I use it as an opportunity to excel.”

What inspired you to choose your major?

“Growing up I took part in a lot of sporting activities and it made me fell in love with it and by so doing, I told myself why don’t you study something that pattern sports then I decided to choose my major. My coach (Malik) back home also saw that I had the love for sports and the love for helping people so he encouraged me to follow that path.”

What has been your favorite class in Valley?

“I don’t actually have one particular favorite class. All the classes I took or I’m taking all seem interesting to me and I can’t actually choose one.“

What do you attribute your on-field success to?

“First of all, I will attribute my success to God for giving me this wonderful talent, however, as the saying goes “God helps those who help themselves” I wouldn’t say is only God but also the hard work and perseverance that I put in. Also, the power of the people around me has been a very big help too. When I talk about the” power of people” I mean, the people that are involved in my life every day and are very supportive. Again, I am self-motivated and I never cease learning from my teammates/people. Furthermore, my family, teammates, professors, friends, and coaches are all attributed to my on-field success. These people keep pushing me to do better and better every day and always tell me to accept both negative and positive criticism.“

What are your individual and team goals for the rest of the season?

“As an individual player in my team is always my goal to be better than yesterday, set examples, always be there to help my team when needed and also to always leave a place better than it was. And as a team, our goal is to be very successful at the end of the season but our ultimate goal is to win our conference championship however this doesn’t come easy, it needs a lot of hard work and I believe my team is ready to take that challenge. “

What is your dream job with your degree?

“My dream job is to be a coach/ and a teacher. I have always had the desire to help people especially in sports and I think choosing this path is the perfect fit for me.”

How has your game developed since coming to the Valley?

“My game has really improved a lot ever since I came to the Valley and most of my teammates and friends back home can testify to that. This is because finding the back of the net used to be a big problem for me but now I think that doesn’t seem to be a problem for me following the success I have had, that is becoming the top scorer in the nation  [at the Division One level] in 2016. Also, my level of competitiveness has improved drastically in the sense that, our conference seems to be the most competitive and aggressive and I have gotten the opportunity to play with big schools from other conferences.“

What is the biggest thing about life you have learned playing soccer?

“Playing soccer has taught me many important life lessons that I carry and use every day. This life lesson that I have learnt in soccer will never be forgotten or depart from me. They have made me a better person and shaped me into the person I am today and will be in the future. I am still learning new things every day from soccer and my team. However, playing soccer, in my opinion, consistently make you a better person. Furthermore, and that no matter how good and talented you are, you definitely need one or two people to help you achieve most of the things in life or to be successful i.e being a team player.  It has taught me to be confident, optimistic(giving up is not an option) most of all dedicated and committed. One thing it taught me and I learned again is to keep fighting for it no matter how tough the road might seem and never quit on a lost or failure but rather learn from it. Lastly let me not forget about these two important factors,  which is hard work and time management! These two plays a vital role in my success so far.”

What inspired the “Back to School” theme that helped you win the 2018 Career Development Award?

“It has always been my dream and passion to help the community especially young kids, who are still growing. So, the Back to School Bash was the perfect tool to use in reaching out to the community. Also, I get to tell my story to encourage and serve as a role model to them and that anytime they think of quitting, they should know someone was once in their situation but made it through. The road may seem rough today but the end result will wipe all the bitterness away.“

 

Fighting Hawks Soar Past Western Illinois 5-0 and Prepare For NDSU Sunday: A Recap and Look Ahead

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Coming into today, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks soccer team had scored 1 goal in its past two games. This team was generating multiple chances against Portland and Oral Roberts, but was only able to put away one chance on a long Brittany Muller salvo on the road against Oral Roberts to give UND their first Summit League victory.

Today against Western Illinois, UND converted multiple chances on its way to a 5-0 win and a 2-0 Summit League record. Of the 11 shots on goal for the Fighting Hawks, five found their way to the back of the net. Mimi Eiden opened the goal scoring account today in the 28th minute as she was the only Fighting Hawk able to generate a goal in the first half. Four different Fighting Hawks scored in the second half to provide the final margin of victory. Brittany Muller scored her second in two games, Olivia Knox scored her second goal of the season, Cassie Giddings deposited her fifth goal of the season, and Emma Bangert contributed her second to round out the scoring for UND.

The scoreline was not indicative of how this game could have gone, the Leathernecks had three shots on goal in the first, and a few grade-a looks that forced UND netminder Olivia Swenson to be on her game.

With this superb win, which UND Head Coach Chris Logan noted that this was the best he has seen his team play all season, now what for UND?  They take on North Dakota State University this Sunday at home at 1 PM.

To this point, this is the biggest game in UND’s season as the Bison are in the mix for a top four spot in the Summit League. The top four teams make the conference tournament. Last season, UND came close to making its conference tournament but due to having a few too many ties they came up just short of their goal. They have a chance to win another match against NDSU on their home pitch this Sunday. The Bison played UND tough last year but a superb Emma Contino free kick goal and excellent defense gave UND the win on the road.

If the Fighting Hawks can keep utilizing their depth scorers like Muller, and continue to see young stars like Cassie Giddings and Mimi Eiden emerge along side senior star striker, Katie Moller, Sunday could produce a favorable outcome for UND. Regardless, look for the sterling defense of this team and its desire to win games on the attack to be what UND uses to go far. Sunday can’t come soon enough. Look for UND to prepare for the Bison on set pieces, as Logan noted the Bison’s prowess in utilizing set pieces to generate chances and goals this year.

UND Finishes Three Game Homestand Strong With Sweep of SDSU

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

In front of 979 roaring fans at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks defeated the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits 3-0 to take their third game in a row and on the week.With that win, the Fighting Hawks now move to 4-1 in Summit League play. Multiple Fighting Hawks played strong roles in today’s sweep. Taliyah Flores lead the defense with 15 kills. Jordan Vail lead the offense with 10 kills on 18 swings. Lydia Rutten was the most efficient attacker with more than 10 swings. She generated an error free 7 kills on 16 swings, good for a .438 clip on the day.

After the game, Head Coach Mark Pryor noted the challenge this game presented to UND. It was their third game since Wednesday, and second in less than 24 hours. He was pleased with UND’s ability to finish sets and hopes the Fighting Hawks can build on that ability to control games heading into next weekend. Next weekend, the Fighting Hawks have a split weekend. First, they play Nebraska Omaha on the road Friday, then come home to face another tough Summit League test as they take on preseason Summit League favorite, Denver, at home next Sunday.

In the first set, the Fighting Hawks had to overcome some adversity as SDSU got on the front foot early as they had to take a timeout down 10-7 in set one. From there on it was a back-and-forth set. Like the second set against Oral Roberts, they did give up a few set points. Unlike yesterday’s second set, they finished strong and took the first set 25-22. In the first set, Jordan Vail was the most efficient Fighting Hawk on offense getting five kills on six swings.

In the second set, the Fighting Hawks made quick work of the Jackrabbits. They stormed to a 25-14 second set victory. UND hit at a blistering .333 clip in the second set. The Fighting Hawks generated 14 kills on 36 swings. In the second set, they bested their low attack error marker of yesterday (in the first four sets) with a mere two attack errors. In addition, they forced 10 attack errors on 34 swings for SDSU.

In the third and final set, UND was able to utilize another low error set with only four attack errors to take the set 25-20 and the match. The Fighting Hawks took the final set hitting .308.Another strong point of the set was UND limiting their swings. They took the third set with 26 swings while SDSU had 31. That, combined with six SDSU attack errors accounted for the quick third set. In the first three sets last night, UND had 20 attack errors. Today, the Fighting Hawks reduced that total by seven to finish the match with 13 attack errors. Limiting errors is a hallmark of when this team is playing well.

Today provided a strong formula to replicate for UND going forward. Limiting errors, and diverse distribution of chances for the offense help this team stay unpredictable and force teams to change their systems to react.All of that, combined with the continued development of Flores who has played quite well as a freshman libero and outside hitter averaging 4.62 digs per set coming into this matchup today all add up to a winning formula for the Fighting Hawks.