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ISSUE 119 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/30/2005

Volleyball stays in playoff hunt

By Marjorie Thirlby
Staff Writer

Friday, September 30, 2005

Despite its up-and-down start to the 2005 season, the St. Olaf volleyball team finally appears to be getting back on the right track.

After defeating Macalester College on Sept. 14, the Oles lost to Hamline University in five games, falling to a team that hadn't defeated the Oles since 1994.

Against Hamline, the Oles battled the Pipers in five games, losing the fifth by a narrow margin of just three points. The Oles had a 2-1 lead over the Pipers, winning the second and third games 30-22 and 34-32, respectively.

Unfortunately, Hamline managed to take the last two games, winning 30-21 and 15-12.

Although St. Olaf totaled 79 team kills during the match, including 23 kills provided by outside hitter Andrea Otteman '07, the Oles also committed 36 attacking errors, compared to just 21 by the Pipers.

"We were disappointed with our loss to Hamline," co-captain Danica Finseth '06 said. "It was our first away game of the season and we weren't as prepared for it as we could have been. Our team didn't really show up to win that night."

Unfortunately, the Oles endured another loss on Friday against conference-leading St. Thomas in a four-game battle at home.

In the first game, the Tommies topped out the Oles by just five points.

In the second, the Oles fired back 26-30, extending the match to four games. The Tommies managed to steal the third and fourth games, winning 30-22 and 30-27, respectfully.

"We felt good about our match against St. Thomas, except that we got off to a slow start in games three and four," setter and co-captain Audrey Volstad '07 said.

Although the Oles were disappointed with their loss to St. Thomas, they maintained a realistic perspective on the match and held their heads high as they entered into their next match against Bethel.

On Saturday morning, the Oles headed back to Skoglund for their 3 p.m. competition against the Royals, ready to execute and win .

The Oles defeated Bethel in three games, 30-17, 31-29 and 32-30, respectively.

Multiple players offered stellar performances, including Otteman with 12 kills, Finseth with 11 and Christine Brook '09 with 10. Volstad offered 41 set assists.

The Oles noticed a significant improvement in their play against Bethel.

"The whole afternoon focus was on the ball and scrapping for every point," Finseth said. "By focusing on the details you don't feel the pressure of the game or the match but actually having fun and playing for each other."

Volstad echoed her co-captain's thoughts in regard to having fun.

"We really focused on working together and just playing volleyball - not worrying about the score or past mistakes," Volstad said. "We had a lot of fun."

Based on the volleyball team's previous performance against the Royals, and factoring in the ups and downs of other teams in the MIAC, the Oles remain a strong contender in the league with a 7-5 record.

"These three games made us realize that the conference is up for grabs this year," Finseth said. "There isn't going to be one, two or three teams that are going to dominate. Everyone is going to have to show up to play every night and whoever works the hardest is going to get the win. Every night is going to be a battle."

The Oles will next face off against Gustavus Adolphus College at home on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

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