Wayne State opens NCAA Central Regional with sweep of Harding
WAYNE, Neb.--Sophomore middle hitter Maggie Brahmer recorded a match-high 12 kills while junior outside hitter Kelsie Cada posted her 15th double-double of the season with 11 kills and 11 digs to power top-seeded and #2 Wayne State College past #24 Harding (Ark.) 25-15, 25-22, 25-12 Friday evening in the opening round of the NCAA Central Regional Volleyball Tournament at Rice Auditorium in Wayne before the third-largest crowd of 1,388 fans in WSC volleyball history. The Wildcats improve to 30-2 on the season, the fourth 30-win season in program history, while Harding ends the year at 30-2.
WSC trailed early in the first set at 7-6, then scored eight points in a row highlighted by a pair of Havyn Heinz aces to take the lead for good in the set at 14-7. The visiting Lady Bisons did close the deficit to three at 17-14 but the Wildcats responded to close the set scoring eight of the final nine points for a 25-15 opening set win. Kelsie Cada and Taya Beller had four kills apiece to lead the ‘Cats in the first set as WSC had four aces two by Heinz plus one each from Cada and Jessie Brandl.
Harding came out strong in the second set and led most of the way, building an early 11-6 lead to force a Wildcat timeout. The ‘Cats battled back and forged a 12-12 tie, only to see the visiting Lady Bisons scored the next three points with two coming via service ace giving Harding a 15-12 advantage.
Wayne State responded and got a Harding service error followed by three straight kills from Maggie Brahmer to take a 17-15 lead and never trail again in the set. The ‘Cats forced 10 attack errors on Harding in the set. Brahmer had the hot hand for WSC with six kills followed by Cada with four. The third set was close early until the Wildcats separated themselves from Harding to complete the sweep.
Tied at 8-8, the ‘Cats used a Cada kill, Harding attack error and a block from Brahmer and Rachel Walker to force a Harding timeout with an 11-8 lead. Walker served four straight points highlighted by an ace that gave WSC a 17-10 lead and the ‘Cats completed the sweep with a 25-12 third set win.
Wayne State finished the match with a .244 hitting percent while holding Harding to .037. The “Cats had a 39-30 edge in kills and forced 25 attack errors in the win. The Wildcats held a 6-4 edge in blocks and had one more service ace than the Lady Bisons 7-6. Brahmer had 12 kills and four blocks to pace Wayne State in the win. Cada added 11 kills and 11 digs and had a team-high three service aces. Five Wildcats had double digits in digs, led by senior Jessie Brandl with 17. Setter Rachel Walker had 14 along with 30 set assists with Jordan McCormick recording 13. Heinz accounted for 10 digs and had two aces.
Wayne State advances to the NCAA Central Regional semi-finals to face No. 5 seed and 7th-ranked St. Cloud State Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m.