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Jimmies outlast Golden Eagles in Iowa

Morgan Hensch (14) and members of the Jimmie volleyball team celebrate a point while facing Cornerstone University during NAIA national tournament pool play Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa. Sean Johnson / For The Sun

Elise Peterson and the Jimmies dug in on day 1 in Sioux City, Iowa.

The senior libero scored a match-high 34 digs Tuesday to open NAIA volleyball national tournament pool play against Cornerstone University (Mich.). Jamestown and the Golden Eagles went the distance inside the Tyson Event Center, but the Jimmies rolled to a 15-8 victory in a deciding fifth set to take the match 3-2.

Jamestown faces No. 1-ranked and undefeated Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) today at 10 a.m.

"We always call it 'steal the bacon,'" Peterson said, referring to the Jimmies denying an opposing team a scoring opportunity. "It was a really big defensive battle on both ends, and we ended up with a few more digs and more kills."

The 19th-ranked Jimmies took the opening set 25-22 and steamrolled the 16th-ranked Golden Eagles 25-11 in the second. Senior outside hitter Morgan Hensch had a huge opening day at nationals sending 23 kills to the floor and committing just two errors in 55 attacking attempts.

Jimmie hitters swung at a clip of .483 in the second.

"I said to my coaches, 'I don't know if we can play much better,'" University of Jamestown head coach Jon Hegerle said. "But I thought (Cornerstone) really stepped things up and starting serving better, and we starting making a few errors."

Jamestown led in both the third and fourth sets, but ultimately fell 25-22 and 26-24. The Golden Eagles were impressive on the block, turning in 27 total blocks in the five sets.

Kendra Zwart, a 6-foot-3 junior middle hitter, led Cornerstone with 12 kills, three solo blocks and seven block assists.

"We had a couple calls not go our way at the end of set 4, which was frustrating," Hegerle said. "But at one point our players said, 'Hey, we are going to win this so let's go out there and get it done,' and that's exactly what you want to hear from your team at the end of the season.

"We ended up playing really well that last set."

The Jimmies took an 8-5 lead in the final frame before allowing Cornerstone just three more points. Jamestown also defeated the Golden Eagles 3-1 at the V-Hawk Holiday Inn Tournament in La Crosse, Wisc., on Sept. 8.

"They are a big blocking team," Hegerle said. "We really had to defend well and that's what turned the match around."

Josie Beckman (19 digs), Meghan Orr (16) and Julina Niemeier (12), along with Peterson, all hit double figures in digs for the Jimmies. Jessica Velander (15 kills), Isabel Wedell (12) and Haley Glasoe (10) complemented Hensch offensively, while Beckman (34 assists) and Whitney King (25) teamed up for 59 assists.

The Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders (29-0)—today's opponent—have only lost one set all season. The Jimmies will finish pool play on Thursday facing Texas Wesleyan (27-5) with two of the four teams advancing to the final 16-team elimination tournament.

The Blue Raiders topped Texas Wesleyan 3-0 on Tuesday.

"We're excited to give (Lindsey Wilson) a run for their money," Peterson said. "I don't know if they've been put into a lot of pressure situations this year and I think we can definitely do that."

Jamestown 3, Cornerstone (Mich.) 2

JAM 25 25 22 24 15

COR 22 11 25 26 8

JAM—Kills: Morgan Hensch 23, Jessica Velander 15, Isabel Wedell 12, Haley Glasoe 10, Kennedy Conzemius 6, Madison Wendel 4, Josie Beckman 2, Elise Peterson. Assists: Beckman 34, Whitney King 25, Elise Peterson 4, Glasoe, Hensch, Velander. Aces: Beckman 2, Kori Buchanan 2, King 2, Peterson, Meghan Orr. Digs: Peterson 34, Beckman 19, Orr 16, Julina Niemeier 12, King 9, Wedell 3, Wendel 3, Glasoe 2, Hensch 2, Velander 2, Buchanan. Blocks: Wendel 5, Conzemius 4, Hensch 3, Glasoe 2, Wedell.

COR (leaders)—Kills: Heather Carlson 12, Kendrea Zawrt 12, Jackie Stanko 10, Ellei Van Laar 9. Assists: Hope Leppink 37. Aces: Kenzie Engelsma 3. Digs: Mackenzie Vallad 32, Leppink 14, Carlson 12. Blocks: Zwart 10, Van Laar 5.

Records: University of Jamestown 22-8. Cornerstone 27-7.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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