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Jimmies win nationally-ranked battle against Doane

The University of Jamestown women's volleyball team hosted Doane University Oct. 15.

Winning 22 straight matches may seem like a big deal to some teams.

For the University of Jamestown women's volleyball team?

"I wouldn't say that record matters at the end of the day," UJ senior setter Jackie Meiklejohn said. "We just care about getting in the gym, working hard and getting better. We love competing and playing hard for each other."

UJ captured its 11th consecutive Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) match, with a 25-15, 25-18, 27-25 sweep of Doane University Friday night at Harold Newman Arena. The Jimmies maintain the No. 1 spot in the GPAC at a perfect 22-0 and 11-0 in conference.

The Jimmies will be back defending their home court Saturday against Hastings College. First serve is scheduled for 5 p.m.

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"I really feel like we had a really good week of practice," UJ head coach Jon Hegerle said. "The last two weeks of not having any mid-week games kind of helped us be more refreshed in how we played. I felt like we were really excited and our heads were really clear tonight."

The Jimmies' heads were so clear and focused that not even well-timed trick plays could fool them.

After the Tigers' hard-hitting tactics proved unfruitful against the rock-solid Jimmie defense, setter Jaime Renshaw tried a quick side sweep to the midcourt on the second contact. Meiklejohn read the hands and managed to pop it up for the Jimmie front row. Kalli Hegerle was the one who put it away to make it 11-2.

The Tigers got lucky on a few net violations and double contacts to come within six of the game leaders, but the lead in the first was never closer than six points. Kalii Hegerle ended a 4-0 Tiger run with a slam down the right sideline to put the Jimmies three points away from winning the set.

Corina Huff ended the first race to 25 with a slam off the block.

"Their strength is being scrappy but that's our strength too," Hegerle said of the Tigers. "We are so physical at the net and I think that really hurt them," Hegerle said. "They couldn't take our swings, we blocked a lot of balls and hit at a really high percentage rate. Being on the road can also put a lot of pressure on a team."

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After taking a beating the first time around, the Tigers came ready to play in the second, managing to keep things close through the first nine points. Drives to the deep corners and stops up front kept the game on the ropes. Gabby Menghini led the Tigers at the net with nine kills.

Doane had four hitters tally at least six kills.

"We usually can spread our offense pretty good," Doane head coach Jenna Jones said. "We have our moments where we can have serving runs and dig balls but it's just -- with the GPAC and teams this year -- it literally seems like it's whoever comes out ready to play better that night."

An ace by Megan Gaffaney gave the Jimmies their biggest lead of the second set, making the score 19-13. While the Tigers managed 12 kills hammered past the Jimmies, the visitors couldn't keep pace with the red hot Jimmies. Smashes from Taylor Sabinash, Jayla Ritter and Aleah Zieske accounted for 11 of the Jimmies' 14 kills in the second. The Tigers were only able to get one lone block of the Jimmies front row across the two sets.

As a team, the Jimmies hit at .252 while the stops at the net held the Tigers to a .136. Kalli Hegerle led the team with 15 attacks while Ritter ended up with 11.

"They are very good at being in the right spot," Jones said of UJ. "They get the ball to their setter almost every single time and their offense is pretty unstoppable. There's times where we were set up with blockers and they still hit over us.

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"The consistency of their defense, offense and serving is hard to beat."

Set No. 3 just saw more of the same, with the Jimmies jumping out to a 13-4 lead, fueled largely by the Jimmies' scrappy defense. Midway through the third set, the Jimmies had already tabulated 67 digs compared to Doanes' 49. Anna Holen led the Jimmies in digs with 22 popped up while Hannah Schiele was close behind, keeping 20 balls in play.

Libero Ellie Holen also cracked into double digits with her dig count totaling 13.

"I thought we defended really well tonight," Hegerle said. "There was a lot of really good effort plays. That was a lot of fun.

While the Jimmies were in control for much of the match, it wouldn't be a GPAC match without a fight.

Doane clawed their way back all the way from a 24-19 deficit to take a 25-24 lead, forcing coach Hegerle to burn two timeouts to calm his team down.

"We had Jaime (Renshaw) serving for us and we got them a little bit out of system and they made a few errors for us," Jones said. "We were making some plays at the net and digging some balls and it seemed like things were kind of going our way.

"I gave the girls a goal of getting to 20 points. They got to that and they kept going. I think that mentality of baby goals kind of helped us out that last little bit."

It was a tense 40 seconds of rallying back and forth before a block from Hegerle made it 26-25 Jimmies. Anna Holen ended it with a cross-court cut to the right sideline.

"We knew that they were a good team and that they were going to battle and that they weren't just going to roll over and be done,' Meiklejohn said. "Right there at the end they gave us a run but we just kept battling and weren't letting balls hit the floor.

"It's good to be pressured by other teams because that only makes us better."

University of Jamestown 3, Doane University 0

DU 15 18 25

UJ 25 25 27

DU -- Kills: Menghini 9, Kirsten Bures 8, Genna Ryan-Piasecki 7, Simonie Mendenhall 6. Assists: Renshaw 28. Digs: Reagan Petersen 17, Renshaw 16, Joslyn Crow 11. Blocks: Ryan-Piasecki 1.

UJ -- Kills: Hegerle 15, Ritter 11, Aleah Zieske 7, Corina Huff 6, A. Holen 5, Sabinash 3, Logan Sherman 2, Meiklejohn 1. Assists: Meiklejohn 26, Gaffaney 16. Digs: A. Holen 22, Schiele 20, E. Holen 13, Meiklejohn 11, Gaffaney 6, Hegerle 5, Zieske 3, Huff 1, Averi Beyer 1. Aces: Beyer 1, Gaffaney 1. Blocks: Ritter 1, Zieske 1.

Records: Doane 18-6 overall, 6-5 GPAC; UJ 22-0, 11-0

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