ORU Ends Regular Season with Five-Set Loss
Olivia Ophus led ORU (19-9, 12-6 Summit League) with 13 kills, while Elizabeth McVicker and Jessica Pancratz each tallied a dozen. But the Golden Eagles hit just .123 as a team and committed 31 attack errors.
Defensively, Bruna Silva had a team-high 34 digs. Sthepahnie Mab added a career-high 15.
SUU’s Analaine Mailoto led all players with an SUU school record 30 kills, while Kylie Schofield added 20. Megan Toolson led the Thunderbirds (11-20, 6-12 Summit League) with 21 digs.
The match was the last Summit League regular season contest for both programs. ORU is departing for the Southland Conference at season’s end, while Southern Utah will join the Big Sky Conference.
Needing a good start to shake off the rust of a four-match losing streak, ORU misfired in the opening set. A kill by SUU’s Alissa Youart launched a 4-1 run to give the Thunderbirds an early 9-6 lead, and Mailoto blasted a kill midway through the game to give the Thunderbirds a 13-8 lead. The game was never in doubt after that point, and Schofield scored a clinching kill to give the home team a 25-17 win.
The Golden Eagles finally got rolling in the second game, taking a 15-11 advantage on an SUU service error. The home team rallied to tie the match at 21-21, but ORU came up big down the stretch. A Tatum Fredeen service ace pushed the Golden Eagles to game point, at 24-22, and Joana Gruber tallied a kill two points later to give ORU a 25-23 win.
SUU scored the first point of the third game on a Mailoto kill and held the lead for most of the set. But ORU responded with a steady rally, finally taking their first lead on a McVicker kill at 17-16. The rally looked to be hopeless, though with the Thunderbirds earning three set points on a Schofield kill to make the score 24-21.
The Golden Eagles would not fade, however, getting kills from McVicker and Taylor as part of a game-saving 4-0 run. Once in extra points, an Ophus kill gave ORU a 27-26 lead, and a ball-handling error on SUU gave Sheera Sirola’s team a 28-26 win.
ORU fell behind early in the fourth set and could not finish SUU off. A kill by Schofield gave the home side a 7-3 lead, and the sophomore came through again later in the set to make the score 15-11. The Golden Eagles made a late run, tying the game at 23-23 on an SUU error, but a Youart kill restored the home team’s lead, and the Thunderbirds took a 25-23 win on an ORU attack error.
The fifth set was tight in the early going, but SUU controlled the final stages to pull away for the win. ORU took a 7-6 lead on an Ophus kill, but Mailoto came back with two kills of her own to put the Thunderbirds up, 9-7. The kills were part of an 8-0 SUU run that all but ended the match, and another Schofield kill gave the home side a 15-8 win.
Despite the five-match losing streak, ORU has clinched the third seed in next week’s Summit League Championship. The Golden Eagles will face host school IPFW in one semifinal, scheduled for Nov. 18 at 7:30 pm. Regular season champion North Dakota State will take on Oakland in the other semifinal, with the championship match scheduled for Nov. 19 at 7 pm.