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Jimmie volleyball bounces back against Tigers

University of Jamestown volleyball waded through three sets of soul searching Tuesday at the Corn Palace before bursting back to life.

The Jimmies opened Great Plains Athletic Conference play with a 3-1 victory over Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, S.D., erupting in the fourth set 25-15 after hanging on early 25-22, 26-24, 18-25. Jamestown was coming off last Saturday's disheartening 3-0 loss to Central Methodist University, which broke up the Jimmies' perfect start to the season and subsequently knocked UJ out of the NAIA's top 25 rankings this week.

"When you build some momentum with a young team like this and have a bad match, then all of a sudden you start second-guessing yourself," UJ coach Jon Hegerle said. "We were just really discouraged with the way we played last Saturday and our confidence was low.

"We fought hard through that most of (Tuesday) night and were tight on a lot of things, but in the fourth set we played loose and took control making plays."

It showed up in the stat sheet. After being held under .200-percent hitting in each of the first three sets, the Jimmies slammed kills to the court at a robust .469 in the final frame. Junior middle Britta Knudson and senior outside Kori Buchanan provided most of the Jimmies' fireworks, each posting 12 kills in the match. Kennedy Conzemius, Anna Holen and Corina Ruud followed with nine apiece.

"Kori came in and they couldn't stop her. She hit every shot possible and hit them hard," Hegerle said. "Britta did a good job as well. We really challenged our middles to do better.

"That last set we just did a really good job locking in and also defended a lot better."

Knudson broke up an 18-all tie in the opener before Sydney Ellingson recorded set point on a nifty sliding bump that went over the net and just stayed inside the line. Leading 25-24 in the second, setter Miranda Lowman fired a dump shot into the middle of the Tigers' defense for the set winner. The Jimmies trailed 15-6 in the third, but bounced back to lead the fourth 15-7.

"The one thing we talked about is we have to do a better job of managing errors," Hegerle said. "We made a number of errors in inopportune times. That hurt us in the first couple sets."

Lowman (26) and Jackie Meiklejohn (23) combined for 49 assists, while Julina Niemeier led the Jimmies with 27 digs. Knudson finished with eight total blocks. The loss was Dakota Wesleyan's first of the the season (9-1, 0-1 GPAC).

The Jimmies were ranked No. 25 in the NAIA preseason top 25 coaches poll, and fell to what would amount to No. 30 in the season's first poll released earlier Tuesday. Jamestown (7-1, 1-0 GPAC) will host Dickinson State this Friday in its home opener beginning at 7 p.m.

"We're looking forward to it," Hegerle said. "After eight matches on the road to start the season, we're excited about playing at home."

(RV) Jimmies 3, Dakota Wesleyan 1

UJ 25 26 18 25

DW 22 24 25 15

Jimmie leaders

Kills: Kori Buchanan 12, Britta Knudson 12, Kennedy Conzemius 9, Anna Holen 9, Corina Ruud 9, Isabel Wedell 6. Assists: Miranda Lowman 26, Jackie Meiklejohn 23. Aces: Meiklejohn 1, Sydney Ellinson 1, Meghan Orr 1, Buchanan 1. Digs: Julina Niemeier 27, Orr 14, Lowman 8, Ellingson 8, Meiklejohn 6, Buchanan 6. Blocks: Knudson 8, Conzemius 5, Ruud 4, Wedell 3.

Records: 7-1, 1-0 GPAC. Dakota Wesleyan 9-1, 0-1 GPAC.

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

(701) 952-8461
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