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UND hangs on for five-set volleyball win over Bison

North Dakota State's Bella Lien hits a shot against North Dakota's Jordan Vail during Wednesday's Summit League volleyball match in Grand Forks. UND won 25-22, 25-20, 18-25, 24-26, 15-9. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service1 / 2
North Dakota State's Kalli Hegerle sets the ball during Wednesday's Summit League volleyball match against North Dakota in Grand Forks. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service2 / 2

GRAND FORKS — North Dakota State earned a set win against the University of North Dakota volleyball team Wednesday night for the first time since September 2014.

Then, the Bison nearly won for their first time at Betty Engelstad Sioux Center by pushing the Fighting Hawks to a fifth set.

Ultimately, however, career-high kills from Jordan Vail, Brynn Nieukirk and Lydia Rutten were enough to hold off NDSU 25-22, 25-20, 18-25, 24-26, 15-9.

"You want to win, so it sucks losing but it says a lot about your team when you're down 0-2 and you can still fight and give everything you have," NDSU coach Jennifer Lopez said. "I'm pretty proud of that."

UND won its fourth straight in the rivalry series, which took place as a league matchup for the first time since Nov. 21, 2003.

The Fighting Hawks, in their first season in the Summit League, improved to 10-8 overall and 2-1 in the Summit. NDSU dropped to 2-12 overall and 0-3 in the Summit.

Vail, a senior middle hitter, finished with 19 kills, while Nieukirk, a 6-foot-2 freshman, had 18 and the sophomore Rutten ended with 11.

"We really focused on getting the ball high in the middle of the court so (setter Roosa Rautio) could distribute and we could terminate from there," said Vail, a Baylor transfer.

The Bison forced a fifth set despite trailing 23-19 in the fourth set before staging a rally. NDSU was led by Alli Mauch's 19 kills and 14 from McKenzie Burke.

"We had our opportunities in the fourth and the third set they were all over us," UND coach Mark Pryor said. "Good for them for fighting. In the fifth set, I said 'Let's be calm and try to get back to playing clean.' "

UND struggled serving, finishing with 13 service errors to NDSU's five. That statistic overshadowed the Hawks' hitting advantage of .258 to .171.

"It's finding that balance between playing as hard as we can but underneath that, control," Pryor said. "And honestly, that's going to take all year."

In the fifth set, UND jumped out to a 6-1 lead. The Bison pulled to within 8-6 but never came closer.

"It's crucial in the fifth set to get up early," said Rutten, whose mother Dana Patsie is a former North Dakota State basketball player. "We were helped with energy from the crowd."

UND drew 2,401 fans, the third-highest attended game in Betty history.

NDSU (kills-blocks-aces): Allie Mauch 19-0-0, McKenzie Burke 14-0-2 (15 digs), Alexis Bachmeier 9-3-0, Abbi Klos 0-0-5 (22 digs), Kalli Hegerle 0-0-1 (46 assists, 15 digs), Bella Lien 0-4-0, Emily Halverson 0-4-0.

UND: Jordan Vail 19-6-0, Brynn Nieukirk 18-0-0, Lydia Rutten 11-4-1, Roosa Rautio 0-0-2 (61 assists), Alivia Fraase 0-0-1, Kayla Williams 0-0-0 (14 digs), Taliyah Flores 0-0-0 (30 digs), Tamika Brekke (17 digs).