Hawks turn season around, but are looking for more at upcoming Summit League volleyball tournament
GRAND FORKS – Twice this season, UND and North Dakota have played five-set volleyball matches. UND won at NDSU; the Bison won at The Betty.
There will be a third match on Thanksgiving night in Omaha.
It will be the most important of the three, as the winner moves on to the Summit League postseason semifinals on Friday night where it will take on No. 2 seed Omaha..
South Dakota carries the top seed into the tournament.
Regardless of what happens to UND in the tournament, the season has seen the Hawks turn in a far better performance than last season.
The Hawks were winless in the league and won only one match all of last season.
UND finished 9-9 in the Summit – an improvement of nine wins from last season. The Hawks are 12-17 overall. The Bison finished 13-5 in the league and 20-10 overall.
UND, however is entering the tournament having lost six in a row.
At one point of the league season, however, UND was battling for the No. 3 seed.
And its loss at Denver last week, snapped a string of five straight, five-set matches for UND..
UND's rise from the bottom of the league last season has the Hawks primed for the tournament and possibly next season as well..
“We’re going to be tough, no matter how many steps it takes,” said UND standout Elizabeth Norris, who has had a handful of triple doubles this season.
In addition to Norris, the Hawks have received a solid season from Marissa Stockman, who ranks 12th in the Summit with a 2.59 hitting percentage. She also averages 1.0 blocks per match, ranking seventh in the Summit.
UND and NDSU went down to the wire twice this season. The question is whether UND can break its six-match losing streak and beat the Bison for a berth in the semifinals.
“I thought it was a pretty good match,” recalled Norris of the teams’ second meeting at the Betty. “It was a battle, a really good fight. They had a lot of good swings. They were very physical. We had a lot of good swings and were pretty physical, too.”
In Thursday’s other first-round match, South Dakota State meets Denver. That winner meets top-seed South Dakota.
South Dakota will be shooting for its third-straight league title and berth in the NCAA. Tournament.
UND will be making its first Summit tournament appearance since joining the league in 2018.