LA CROSSE, Wis. — What’s a better eye-opener than a cup of coffee in the morning? How about
a 3-1 win over the fourth-ranked team in the NAIA Coaches’ Preseason Top 25. That’s how the
University of Saint Francis opened its Saturday morning.
The Lady Cougars improved to 5-2 stunning No. 4 Viterbo University 25-20, 25-22, 25-27 and 26-24 ending a 66-match home court winning streak for the V-Hawks.
“We had a good game plan against Viterbo and we executed that plan really well,” USF Head Coach Scott Haddix observed. “Our defense on and off the net along with our service game made Viterbo uncomfortable. Then Anne Clark had the match of her career along with Maria Pelak setting probably the best match of her stellar young career. It was a perfect combination of circumstances for us.”
Clark led the USF attack with 16 kills while Ava Kunkler delivered eight and Cassidy Rammel seven. Pelak produced 38 assists on USF’s 46 kills. The sophomore also had 20 digs while Valorie Flick added 15.
USF led the first set by as many as 11 points at 16-5. USF was outscored 15-9, but Viterbo battled back to within three, 23-20. VU gave USF a point for a 24-20 lead on a service error, then Mary Diagostino secured the win with a kill for the 25th point. There were 14 ties in the second set and three lead changes. USF took the lead 22-21 on a VU attack error and Rammel’s ace gave USF a 23-21 lead. VU scored on a Rammel service error cutting the USF lead to two, but USF scored on a VU ball handling error, then Diagostino nailed the set-winning kill.
The third set featured 16 ties and six lead changes before VU prevailed by two.
USF led 12-5, 14-6, 16-7, and 18-8 before VU rallied tied the conflict at 24. A Pelak-Kendra Siefring block put USF up 25-24 and the Lady Cougars won on a VU attack error after a match that featured 36 ties and nine lead changes.
The V-Hawks finished No. 3 in 2017 after a 40-2 campaign and were No. 4 in the Aug. 4 preseason Top 25.
USF finished the Viterbo Invitational with a 3-0 win over 35th-ranked Our Lady of the Lake University — 25-17, 25-12, 25-14. The Lady Cougars improved to 3-1 for the invitational and are 6-2.
Clark led a balanced USF attack with nine kills. Rammel added eight. Pelak finished with 24 assists. Flick led digs with 10. In the first set, USF used a 7-2 run to open up a 14-9 lead and OLLU got no closer than four. Kunkler delivered the set-winning kill for USF.
A 10-1 opening charge in the second set left little doubt about the outcome, a 13-point second set USF win ending with a Rammel kill. In the third set, USF surged to a 10-4 lead. OLLU clawed back within two, 14-12, but Rammel’s kill made it 15-12 and USF pulled away to finish the 11-point third set win after a match that had five ties, three lead changes.