LA CROSSE, Wis. — This time around Viterbo University was waiting and the No. 5 ranked V-Hawks defeated No. 30 University of Saint Francis 3-0 in the first match of the day at the Viterbo Invitational.
The Lady Cougars bounced back behind the 18-kill efforts of Anne Clark for a 3-0 win over Mayville State and a 3-1 weekend.
VU won 25-18, 25-22 and 25-22 to avenge a 25-20, 25-22, 25-27 and 26-24 loss in 2018 that ended the V-Hawks’ a 66-match home court winning streak for the V-Hawks.
“They were dead set on avenging our upset against them last season,” USF Head Coach Scott Haddix asserted. “Viterbo is a great team with a strong history and tremendous pride. It was a great early season test for both teams. We just didn’t have enough this morning to pull out the couple points we needed to secure a win.”
VU kept the Lady Cougars at arm’s length most of the match with USF getting no closer than 6-5. USF drew within four twice later in the match at 17-13 and 18-14, but from there VU outscored USF 7-4 to win by seven. USF handled Mayville State 25-22, 25-16 and 25-23.
USF led 2-1, 4-3, 5-4 and 6-5 but a 5-0 VU surge put the home team up 10-6. VU pulled out to leads of 11-7, 15-11, 18-13 and 20-14 before USF used 4-1 surge closing the deficit to three at 21-18, 22-19, 23-20. Back-to-back Megan Diagostino kills drew USF within a two points, 24-22, before VU won with a kill on the 47th rally.
In the third set, the V-Hawks took a 3-0 lead, but USF rallied scoring eight of the next 11 points to take an 8-6 lead. The Lady Cougars continued their attack opening up a 15-11 lead and still led 21-17 with a 4-0 run capped by a Maile Steckelberger ace. VU scored eight of the last nine points charging past USF to the three-point win.
“We have to be ready for everyone’s best,” Haddix observed. “The No. 5 team in the country knew it had to bee focused and execute at a high level to win and they did just that. We have to take the next step in our program’s development and be ready for everyone’s best. We didn’t play with that mentality against Viterbo.”
VU finished with a 39-32 edge in kills, but USF committed 23 attack errors, VU 11. Kendra Siefring led USF’s attack with eight kills while Diagostino added seven, Clark and Makayla Hissong six apiece. Nikki Marshall delivered 14 digs. Maria Pelak had 29 assists.
Clark’s 18 kills were a career high while Siefring added 10 and Hissong eight in the second match of the day. Marshall delivered a career-high 24 digs and Pelak finished with 43 assists and 12 digs. USF controlled a 55-29 kills advantage.
Clark’s kill secured USF’s 25th point in the first set. USF went on a 6-0 in the second set opening up a 14-8 lead after a tie at eight. A 5-0 run opened up a 24-15 USF lead and Katarine DiBiasio’s kill put USF up 2-0.
After nine ties in the first 18 points of the third set, Clark drilled a kill for an 11-9 USF lead, but Mayville fought back to a tie at 14, but back-to-back Taylor Karlo kills and a Diagostino kill put USF up 16-14. After MSU knotted the set again at 16, USF took the lead for good with a Diagostino kill. A Clark kill, an MSU error and another Clark kill opened up a 20-16 USF lead. USF led 23-18 and 24-20, but MSU sent a scare to USF clawing back to within a point, 24-23 before a Kunkler block sealed the deal for USF.