Jennies fall in five sets at Central Region opener

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(ST. PAUL, Minn.) — The fourth-seeded Central Missouri Jennies held a lead after three sets, but were unable to hold off the fifth-seeded Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, who came back to defeat the Jens in five sets, 18-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-18, 6-15.
The Jennies (26-7) opened their tournament with a five-point run against the Bulldogs, on five straight kills from seniors Bradye Peniston, Lisa Moore and Hillary McCormick. Minnesota-Duluth stopped the bleeding, and eventually took control on a 7-1 run, tying the set at 10-10.
The Jennies struggled to side out the rest of the way, allowing runs of three and four points, before Minnesota-Duluth ultimately finished on a 6-0 run to clinch the 25-18 set victory.
In what turned out to be the closest set in the match, the Jennies found themselves down 23-21 after a 4-1 run by the Bulldogs. Peniston started to turn the tide with a kill at 23-22, then Carly Sojka and Taylor Goodness tied the score with a block at 23-23.
Goodness gave UCM set point with a kill on the following play, but Minnesota-Duluth answered with the set-tying kill at 24-24. Sojka put the Jens in front again with the kill, and UCM took the set after a Bulldog attack error at 26-24.
The Jens used an eight-point run in the third set to take an 11-5 lead early, highlighted by four straight kills by Sojka, Goodness and Moore. After another three-point run for UCM made it 14-8, Duluth called a timeout and started climbing back into the game. The Bulldogs kept the score close, then used a four-point run to close the gap to three at 22-19.
The Jens were able to side out the Bulldogs and held on, as Peniston’s kill at set point finished off the third, 25-21.
Minnesota-Duluth again used several small runs to build up a lead on the Jens, going ahead 6-2 early, before using another 5-1 run to build an 11-5 advantage. Three straight points for the Jens, coming from a pair of attack errors and a block by Moore and Goodness cut the lead down to 11-8.
Minnesota-Duluth responded with six of the next seven points, taking a 17-9 lead, and control of the set for good. The Jennies made a late four-point run, but the Bulldogs closed out with the last two points of the set, winning 25-18.
In the decisive fifth set, Minnesota-Duluth snuck out to a quick 3-0 lead, coming from a UCM service error, as well as a block and a kill from the Bulldogs.
The Jens earned the sideout on the next point, but then gave up another three points in the shortened set, and found themselves down 6-1. UCM was able to stop the runs made by Minnesota-Duluth, but could never put together more than a two-point run on the offensive front, finally finishing with a 15-6 defeat.
Peniston and Sojka teamed up for 13 kills apiece in the match, leading the team. In her final match, Peniston recorded a .344 hitting percentage, committing just two errors on the night. Seniors Lisa Moore and Hillary McCormick collected nine and seven kills, respectively.
Setter Julia Bates collected 42 assists on the night, averaging 8.6 per set. On the back line, three freshmen led the way, with Annie Reilly collecting a team-high 13 digs, followed by Sojka with 12, and Sara Rooney with 10. Sojka earns her 14th double-double of the season.
The Jennies finish the 2012 season with a 26-7 record, collecting more than 25 wins for the 11th consecutive season. It was also the fourth straight year with single-digit losses.
The Jens reached the NCAA Tournament for the 30th straight season, setting a new NCAA Division II record.