A pair of All-Americans donned the libero jersey for University of Jamestown women's volleyball prior to Sydney Ellingson.
Last season, Jamestown's own Julina Niemeier rode the position to GPAC libero of the year honors, while Oakes native Nicole Warren racked up 1,612 career digs -- second all-time in UJ history -- wearing the opposite-colored shirt between 2013-16. But Ellingson, a product of Langdon, North Dakota, isn't letting the weight of all that cloud what she brings to the 11th-ranked Jimmies this season.
Ellingson's job is keeping balls from hitting the floor, and it's something the junior does quite well.
"From day 1 -- since I got to campus and joined this program -- it's always been: you gotta play gritty, you gotta play fierce and you gotta be hungry," Ellingson said. "Steal bacon, we say."
The Jimmies stole bacon from Presentation College on Tuesday at Newman Arena, rolling 25-16, 25-15, 25-13 over the Saints. The Jimmies improved to 13-0 against Presentation since 2013, winning all except a 3-1 decision in 2015 via the three-set sweep.
Ellingson finished the evening with 10 digs, and also served back-to-back aces during a 9-1 Jimmie run to start a dominating third frame. UJ's libero is up to a team-leading 324 digs on the season and was averaging 4.2 digs per set entering the match.
"I have so much support from my teammates, so it made it really easy to step into that big role," said Ellingson, who has tallied 535 career digs. "Julina was so good ... she's a big, big role model for me. So I just try to mirror her and do what she does."
Jamestown's Hannah Schiele paced UJ's defensive specialists vs. the Saints by recording 14 digs. Jamestown team-driven success has pushed the Jimmies' record to 18-3 with the win.
In true Jimmie front-row fashion, Isabell Wedell, Ellie Michaletz and Britta Knudson all matched a match-high nine kills.
"I trust them so much," Ellingson said of her teammates. "We're each other's biggest cheerleaders, so it makes it a lot easier for us in the back row to have all that talent. We can just have fun and play really free."
A 7-0 UJ run led to a 16-11 cushion in the opening set. Three unforced errors by the Saints were bookended by kills turned in by Knudson and Michaletz during the spurt. The Jimmies held the Saints to a hitting percentage of .022 in the match.
Errors stung the visitors again in the second, as miscues at the service line and at the net by the Saints broke up a 9-9 tie. The Jimmies led from there, and a late 6-0 run with setter Jackie Meiklejohn at the service line aided the 10-point set victory.
UJ saved its best for last, as Ellingson and the Jimmies pounced all over PC at the onset of the third.
"We started picking up towards the end, so that was good," said UJ coach Jon Hegerle. "I was happy with the way we kept gaining more energy as we went through this, and I thought we served really aggressively and I think that took its toll on (Presentation) towards the end."
The Jimmies are back on the road competing in Great Plains Athletic Conference play this weekend. Jamestown (18-3, 6-1 GPAC) will head to Sioux City, Iowa, to face Briar Cliff (13-10, 3-6) and No. 25 Morningside (13-7, 5-5) this Friday and Saturday, respectively.
"We just have such a tough conference, and it's great because we have to get out and compete all the time and it gets our competitive juices flowing," Hegerle said. "Briar Cliff is playing really well right now and Morningside has beat some top teams. We know we have our work cut out for us."
(11) University of Jamestown 3, Presentation College 0
PC 16 15 13
UJ 25 25 25
PC -- Kills: Kayla Wolfe 6, Alyssa Haberer 4. Assists: Brooke Swanson 19. Digs: Laura Babcock 11, Kilinoe Gora 7. Blocks: Haylee Biel 2.
UJ -- Kills: Britta Knudson 9, Izzy Wedell 9, Ellie Michaletz 9, Taylor Sabinash 6, Corina Ruud 5, Jordan Thomas 3, Anna Holen 2. Assists: Miranda Lowman 21, Jackie Meiklejohn 11, Megan Gaffaney 4, Sydney Ellingson 4, Hannah Schiele 2. Aces: Wedell 3, Ellingson 2, Meiklejohn 2. Digs: Schiele 14, Ellingson 10, Lowman 6, Michaletz 6, Meiklejohn 6, Holen 4, Averi Beyer 4. Blocks: Knudson 6, Michaletz 5, Sabinash 3, Ruud 3.
Records: Jamestown 18-3. Presentation 9-12.