SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Union College scrapped and fought, but in the end, third-ranked Hastings (Neb.) proved to be strong foe as Union fell 3-0 in their opening match of pool play at the NAIA Volleyball National Championship.
The week-long tournament is being held at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
Making their first-ever appearance at the final site, the Bulldogs (33-10 overall) put up quite a fight. Yet, the Broncos (27-3 overall) pieced together long runs in each of the sets in scoring the 25-13, 25-14, 25-15 victory.
Union was unable to mount much of an attack. Hastings limited Union to 19 kills while recording 7.5 team blocks. The Bronco serve game was strong with 11 aces in spite of committing 12 service errors.
Early in the opening frame, the Bulldogs kept things close as kills by Rachel Andrews (JR/Louisville, Ky. ) and Marissa Elam (JR/Muncie, Ind.) pulled the team within 8-6. However, a 6-0 run allowed Hastings to open up a 20-9 cushion. Unable to get the margin back under 10, Union dropped the first set 25-13.
The Bulldogs nabbed their first lead at 3-2 in the second set and had the framed tied at 5-all as they continued to show their fight. The frame remained close as a Bronco ball-handling error kept Union with 13-11. But another 6-0 Hastings run opened up a 19-11 advantage en route to the 25-14 Bronco set win.
Hastings opened the third set with a 4-0 spurt, yet Union battled back to pull within 8-6. Maddie Jergesen (FR/Carson City, Nev.) and Julia Edmonds (SR/Burlington, Ky.) each had kills in the Union rally. The Bulldogs stayed within a four-point range of the Broncos until another 4-0 spurt opened up 17-9 margin. From that point on, Hastings slowly worked its way to the 25-15 set win and 3-0 match victory.
Elam led Union with five kills, while Jenna Nelson (JR/Florence, Ky. ) followed with four. Andrews notched three to go with two blocks. Paulina Hileman (JR/Johnstown, Colo.) recorded 10 digs to give her 754 on the year, ranking her fifth in program history.
For Hastings, Katie Placke set the tone with eight kills, while Casey Krolikowski followed with seven. Logan Drueppel added six kills and six total blocks.
Union returns to action Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT when it faces No. 14 Missouri Baptist, who lost a tough 3-2 match to No. 19 Jamestown (N.D.) in its opening contest.