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Bittersweet finish: Postseason run ends for Jimmie volleyball

University of Jamestown's Josie Beckman serves a ball into play Friday against Viterbo University at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Sean Johnson / For The Sun

University of Jamestown volleyball made memories to last a lifetime this season, but saying goodbye is never easy.

The Jimmies' historic playoff run came to an end Friday at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. Second-ranked Viterbo University (Wisc.) eliminated Jamestown 3-0 in the opening round of the 16-team elimination bracket of the NAIA Women's Volleyball National Championship tournament.

Never before had Jimmie volleyball advanced to the final 16 teams at nationals, finishing just one win shy of the quarterfinals.

"We sat in the locker room until they kicked us out," University of Jamestown head volleyball coach Jon Hegerle said. "There was a lot of laughter and a lot of tears, and just the stories of those six seniors who made such an impact.

"It's bittersweet."

Haley Glasoe, Morgan Hensch, Elise Peterson, Madison Wendel, Jessica Velander and Whitney King played their final match for the orange and black. Glasoe, Wendel and Peterson were competing in their third national tournament in four years with the Jimmies, who racked up 94 victories since the trio were freshmen in 2014.

"We talked after the game was over about just how lucky we were to be on this team and to play with people who love each other so much," said King, who recorded a team-high 18 assists against Viterbo. "The people and the relationships, that's what makes the Jimmie program what it is. It's like nothing else."

Viterbo pushed its current winning streak over the Jimmies to 10 matches, and it's pair of senior first team All-Americans were again a huge part of the equation. The V-Hawks' 6-foot-2 middle Natalie Geidel scored 16 kills and setter Amelia Grahn posted 40 assists, both match highs, to help Viterbo to the win 26-24, 25-11, 25-18.

The V-Hawks (38-1) have won three straight North Star Athletic Association conference championships but nearly lost what would have been only their second match of the season on Oct. 21 in Jamestown, when the V-Hawks snuck out of Newman Arena with a 3-2 victory.

"We played really well that first set and were up 24-22. We had a couple chances but didn't get it done," Hegerle said. "Viterbo really played well. They served better than we've ever seen them serve and that was probably the difference in the game after that."

The V-Hawks made just one service error in 74 attempts. Hensch and Peterson led the Jimmies with 11 kills and 26 digs, respectively.

After going 0-3 in national tournament pool play in 2014 and 1-2 in 2016, Jamestown finally broke into elimination-round play this week going 2-1 in its pool. But the path was daunting.

The Jimmies (23-10) drew play against the two top-ranked teams in the nation. Jamestown fell to No. 1-ranked Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 3-0 in pool play on Wednesday.

"That's been our goal since the beginning of the season, to make it out of pool play and we're so happy to have done that," King said. "I'm just so proud that we got here. Viterbo is a great team and they deserve to move on."

Peterson, the Jimmies' libero this season, finishes ninth in career digs for the Jimmies with 1,398. Glasoe's 406 career blocks ranks seventh all-time, and her .357 hitting percentage this fall is tied for fourth-best as a Jimmie.

Wendel set the sixth-best hitting percentage by a Jimmie in 2015 at .354.

"It was a great season with just a phenomenal group of young women who love each other so much," Hegerle said. "I'm just incredibly proud of this group and what they were able to do."

(2) Viterbo 3, (19) Jamestown 0

UJ 24 11 18

VU 26 25 25

UJ—Kills: Morgan Hensch 11, Isabel Wedell 9, Jessica Velander 6, Madison Wendel 4, Haley Glasoe 2, Kennedy Conzemius 1. Assists: Whitney King 18, Josie Beckman 11, Elise Peterson, Kori Buchanan. Aces: King, Buchanan, Julina Niemeier. Digs: Peterson 26, Niemeier 8, Meghan Orr 3, Beckman 2, Buchanan 2, Velander 2, Wedell, Glasoe, King. Blocks: Velander 2, Wendel 2, Conzemius, Glasoe.

UV (leaders)—Kills: Natalie Geidel 16, Aubry Aspen 11. Assists: Amelia Gran 40. Aces: Hannah Erickson 3. Digs: Baylee Gross 21, Grahn 11. Blocks: Geidel 4, Grahn 3.

Records: Viterbo 38-1. Jamestown 23-10.

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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