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ISSUE 117 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/17/2003

MIAC setbacks plague volleyball

By Ken Foote
Sports Editor

Friday, October 17, 2003

After capturing the MIAC tournament title last season, the volleyball squad looked to add a regular season trophy to their case. But its members have run into a long list of problems, made up mostly of the other teams in the conference.

With a chance to bring their MIAC record back to .500, the team dropped a heartbreaking five-set match to St. Mary’s on Oct. 8. The Cardinals are only one game out of first in the MIAC. The 3-2 loss plummeted the Ole’s record to 2-4 in the conference and 11-11 overall, effectively ending any chance the squad had to capture the MIAC regular season title.

Over the weekend the team traveled to Indianola, Iowa in hopes of finding some non-conference relief at the Simpson Invite. Unfortunately, the relief was in short supply as Wartburg handed them a 3-2 defeat in the first of four matches over the next two days. The nightcap went much better as the Oles hammered Graceland 3-0 to end the day on a positive note.

Hoping to build on that momentum the team prepared for their second doubleheader in as many days. The first game provided an intriguing subplot. The Oles now had a chance to avenge a crushing early season loss to conference rival St. Ben’s.

The squad could not get it done on the hard courts of the Skoglund Center, but dominated the Blazers on the neutral courts at Simpson’s Cowles Fieldhouse en route to a 3-1 win. The Oles won the first two sets 30-24 and 30-21 respectively before dropping the third step 28-30. The club rebounded and doubled up the overmatched Blazers 30-15.

Awaiting the Oles for the final match of the weekend was the host Storm. Simpson was ranked 21st in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll heading into the action. True to form, the Storm, who lead all NCAA Division III teams in blocks, turned aside the pesky Ole assemblage 3-1.

There is still an outside chance the team can rebound from their poor start and clinch one of the six playoff berths the conference offers, but the squad will have to turn it around in a hurry, as they currently reside in ninth place.

The Oles travel to St. Paul to take on conference leader St. Thomas Friday at 7:30 p.m. After the tussle with the undefeated Tommies, the team will head right back to Minneapolis’ twin city to face Hamline at 7:30 p.m. The Pipers are an abysmal 1-5 in the MIAC but boast a 10-8 record overall.

The Oles are not out of the MIAC playoff picture yet, but if the team does not take carry of business this weekend in the state’s capital, they will be on their way to an extended off-season.

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