Outside hitters power Albion to MIAA Tournament win

Outside hitters power Albion to MIAA Tournament win

ALBION, Mich. – Outside hitters Kelsey Gustafson and Kate Winter racked up five kills apiece in the fourth set as Albion College finally turned back Trine University 25-11, 25-15, 24-26, 26-24 in a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Volleyball Tournament first round match at Kresge Gymnasium.

Albion improved to 17-11 and advanced to a Friday semifinal match against Calvin College, the top ranked team in Division III and MIAA regular season champion, in Grand Rapids.

Albion trailed by as many as seven in the fourth set. Gustafson terminated two points and Marie Pregenzer added a kill and a solo block as the Britons scored five in a row to trail 14-12.

"We kept talking about having belief in our process," Albion Head Coach Kristin de St. Aubin said when asked about how her team came back in the fourth set. "We talked all week about how Trine is a scrappy team. We had to have a short memory. If they score points, we have to go back and get ours by going back to what we do well. It was a great match on both sides."

A Gustafson kill started Albion on a three-point run as the Britons trailed 18-17. Winter terminated consecutive points as Albion forged a tie at 19 and it took a 20-19 lead on Pregenzer's only ace of the night.

The set was tied at 20, 21, 22 and 23. A service error pushed Trine to set point, but Albion responded by scoring the final three points. Pregenzer knocked down her eighth kill of the night, followed by a Trine attack error and Winter terminated the final point.

Monica Shuk served up two aces, Pregenzer assisted on two blocks and Gustafson produced two kills and a block assist as Albion scored 13 consecutive points to run away with the first set.

Shuk finished the night with four aces, moving her into second place on Albion's all-time list.

Pregenzer blocked the first two points of the second set and Albion never trailed in building a 2-0 lead in the match.

Gustafson finished with a season-high 15 kills while hitting .295 (15-2-44). She fell two digs shy of completing her second career double-double.

"It takes pressure off our middle blockers if we get scoring from our outside hitters," de St. Aubin said. "It was nice to see Kelsey believe in herself in those big moments."

Of Note

  • Setter Grace VanDorn completed her 36th career double-double with 34 assists and 18 digs. The sophomore is 21 shy of reaching 2,000 career assists.
  • Shuk led Albion's defensive effort with 32 digs. Albion's all-time leader, she has collected 2,159 digs in her career.
  • Jenna Khoury reached a career-high with 16 digs.
  • Brielle Brown added 13 digs, her second-most in a match this season.

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