MILWAUKEE – A week ago, it looked as if Concordia University Wisconsin's chances of making the Northern Athletics Conference Tournament were slim. The Falcons capped a remarkable rise up the standings and earned the eighth seed in the tournament after a 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-19) victory over MSOE on Wednesday inside the Kern Center.
CUW (8-19, 5-7 NAC) saved its best for last, hitting a season-high .266 (41 kills, 12 errors) and commanded the match from start to finish. The contest featured 10 scoring ties and six lead changes, but MSOE (6-17, 3-9 NAC) only challenged the Falcons in the initial stages of the third set.
Sophomore Hannah Griffiths (Antigo, Wis.) led CUW with nine kills, while sophomore Carley Valentine recorded eight kills, 15 assists and nine digs. Senior Amanda Stahmann (Van Dyne, Wis.) and junior Ashley Faber added seven kills apiece.
Junior Tia Jandrian (Forestville, Wis.) directed the offense with a team-high 16 assists and sophomore Erin Howard (Labadie, Mo.) dug 13 attack attempts.
Leah Hendricks led all players with 13 kills, while Ali Borrelli finished with a double-double, 15 assists and 14 digs. Lynnsey LeCount dug 14 attack attempts and smashed nine kills.
The Falcons took control from the start and led by as many as 11 points, 12-1, before cruising to an opening frame win, 25-16. They hit .314 in the set (15 kills on 35 attempts).
MSOE traded points in the beginning of set two, but the Falcons offense was firing on all cylinders and it was too much to handle. They rattled off a series of kills to turn a 3-3 tie into a 15-6 advantage. The Raiders got to within four points, 20-16, but a Jandrin service ace turned the momentum in CUW's favor. Valentine hammered the 25th point to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Raiders came out swinging in the final frame and held a 10-9 lead prior to the Falcons scoring five-straight points that included two kills by Faber. CUW held a single-digit lead until freshman Jessica Eggebrecht (Napoleon, Ohio) and Stahmann recorded back-to-back kills, along with a MSOE bad set gave them a sweeping victory.
At one point CUW was more than three victories behind the eighth seed in the NAC standings, but after three-consecutive wins – two on the road – and some help it will now travel to No. 1-ranked Edgewood College for a 7 p.m. opening round match.