The Minot State University volleyball team came out flat Thursday night, and Northern State capitalized.
The Wolves racked up a blistering .640 hitting percentage in the first set and went on to sweep the Beavers, 25-13, 25-15, 25-22, at the MSU Dome.
"They don't have a lot of weaknesses ... in their passing, and we've got some weaknesses there," MSU coach Travis Ward said. "They did a really good job attacking where our weakness was hitting-wise and where we struggled blocking. They knew where it was and they weren't afraid to go to it and beat us up a little bit."
Mike Kraft/MDN • Northern State freshman Cari McGarvie, right, hits off the block of Minot State University freshman Erin Davis (13) on Thursday at the MSU Dome.
The Wolves (15-10 overall, 10-7 Northern Sun) benefited from the pinpoint setting of freshman Drew Smith, who finished with a match-high 41 assists. Outside hitters Macey Finizio and Kaleinani Kabalis led Northern State with 17 and 13 kills, respectively.
"They make you score, and if you don't score they're gonna challenge you with some swings," Ward said. "We weren't doing anything blocking-wise on the right side, so we just struggled with that. They kind of had their option to go off on us."
The Beavers (6-21, 2-15) made it interesting in the third set, leading 17-15 before the Wolves rattled off 10 of the match's final 15 points. MSU's Shari Hewson, the only player honored on senior night, had four of her eight kills in the game. Hewson also finished with a team-high nine digs.
"We've had kind of a rough year but I've had a lot of fun," she said. "As a senior, it's hard. It's coming down to your last time and you just want everything so bad. ... Once you get to this age, you just realized what it's all worth, what you've worked your whole life in volleyball for."
A slideshow put together by Hewson's teammates was shown before the match, but the Wolves were the ones who grabbed the early momentum.
"Our serving took them out of system quite a bit," Northern State coach Brent Aldridge said. "We touched a bunch of balls. I know we didn't end up with a bunch of blocks, but we touched 'em and dug 'em."
Freshman outside hitter Mallory Sall led MSU with 12 kills.
The Beavers play at Minnesota State-Moorhead at 4 p.m. Saturday.