WINONA, Minn. The Saint Mary's University volleyball team entered Saturday's match against Augsburg with three streaks in tact. the Cardinals left the SMU Gym with just two still alive.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, the one streak they had snapped meant little or nothing to any of them.
With its Game 1 win a 30-27 decision the Auggies won a game against SMU for the first time since a 3-2 Cardinal victory in 1999. The Cardinals, however, won the next three games 30-22, 30-18, 30-25 to extend their unbeaten streak against Augsburg to seven straight, and their current winning streak to a season-high six matches.
"Offensively, I thought we played very well, almost on par with last night," said SMU coach Mike Lester, whose team opened the weekend with a 3-1 victory over Bethel Friday night. "But defensively, we were a little slow. Augsburg ran some things that really kept us off balance. (Augsburg's) middles really did a nice job the match really turned into a battle of middles."
A battle that SMU middle hitter Ashley Dingels (GIbbon, Minn.) won by a landslide.
Augsburg's Billie Painschab collected 15 kills and hit .364 from her middle position, but those numbers as impressive as they were paled in comparison to Dingels, who hammered down a season-high 27 kills, hit .511 and tallied six blocks.
"Right now, our offense is really clicking on all cylinders," said Lester, whose team improved to 7-2 in the MIAC and 19-5 overall. "But were aren't quite as consistent defensively. If we can figure out a way to dig and block better put that together with the offense we've got right now we'd be awfully tough to stop."
Until they can put it all together, however, Lester is content to let his team continue to find ways to win.
"It wasn't a pretty match, but we got the job done and in this conference, a win is a win, no matter how you get it," said Lester, who also got 16 kills from Megan Roesler (St. Paul, Minn.), 11 from Tracy Koertgen (Crystal Lake, Ill.) and 10 from Lisa Engdahl, while Tessa Stranik (Eatonville, Wash.) tallied 59 assists. "We entered this week 4-2 (in the conference standings) and we ended the week at 7-2. Anytime you can win three conference matches in a span of four days like that, it's big."