Vikings beat USF in three straight

ALAN THOMPSON

acthompson09@ole.augie.edu

The Viking volleyball  team swept rival University of Sioux Falls (USF) at home in straight sets last Friday, adding a point to Augustana’s 4-1 Mayor’s Cup lead over USF.

“It was kind of exciting to play them and actually have it count,” junior setter Kayla Wallerich said.

According to assistant coach Kasey Nikkel, it was a good match but an even better outcome for the Vikings.

“We played pretty well,” Nikkel said. “USF matched up with our pin players well, so I think our setter Marissa Johnson did a good job with our middle Holly Hafemeyer on the offense which made us successful.”

Junior middle blocker Holly Hafemeyer dominated USF’s defense with match-high 12 kills and .391 attack percentage.

Hafemeyer was named Wednesday to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) all-conference first team. Named to the all-conference second team are juniors middle hitter Taylor Hrdlichka and libero Grace Sanders.

The No. 10 regionally ranked Vikings have not been ranked since 2008, and this year they have the talent and experience to advance to the postseason, Nikkel said.

“This year there is a NSIC tournament,” Nikkel said, “and the top eight teams in the conference will advance, so there’s higher stakes. We’re in control of our own destiny.”

The crowd, led by the strip-teasing Augieholics, who removed an item of clothing for each point scored, welled with enthusiasm in support of seniors Megan Bezdicek, Brooke Lewko and Jordan Spatenka, who played for the last time in the Elmen Center.

“It was awesome having so much support throughout the years, and it was great to go out with a win,” Spatenka said.

The game was meaningful for Lewko, who played her last minutes for Augustana.

“Being injured this year, I was unable to play for over a month, so when I got the chance to play in my last home game, I was way more excited than usual,” Lewko said.

The team’s 17-10 (11-7 NSIC) record stems from responsibility, Nikkel said.

“We’re really big on accountability, teammates holding each other accountable for things has driven a more competitive environment,” Nikkel said.

Lewko remains optimistic about her team’s chances for the NSIC tournament, as the squad has garnered several wins against nationally ranked teams, two against Minnesota State University and one win over University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“I hope we make it to the conference tournament and hopefully regionals,” Lewko said. “I want to go out strong.”

It will be difficult, though, if Augustana can’t beat evenly-matched Winona State State University (19-9, 11-7 NSIC) and University of Upper Iowa (15-12, 9-9 NSIC) on the road this weekend.

“In order to make the conference tournament, we need to win both matches this weekend,” freshman setter Marissa Johnson said.