Tightly-contested HCAC, MIAA battle begins home slate

Tightly-contested HCAC, MIAA battle begins home slate

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – In the wake of a two-hour non-conference thriller before nearly 200 raucous fans inside Stauffer-Wolfe Arena Wednesday, Sept. 7, Manchester University head coach Bryndon Paulsen came away wondering about what might have been.

"(The team) talked afterwards and noted there were quite a few points left out on the floor," the Black and Gold's third-year skipper said after Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association member St. Mary's held on for a 25-23, 27-29, 25-20, 25-21 victory. "There were two or three plays every set we wished we could've had over.

Our plan was to be aggressive serving – trying to keep them off balance," he added. "There were some strong periods where we did so but at other times, we weren't as aggressive as we'd hoped, and (St. Mary's) capitalized."

Senior outside hitter Courtney Chowning (Yorktown, Ind.) drilled 22 kills, going over the 20-mark for the third time in her illustrious Spartans' career, to guide an offensive attack that totaled 52 for the night. Sophomore right side hitter Haley Duncan (Albion, Ind.) also turned in double digits with 12. Chowning also turned out to be a weapon defensively, tallying three blocks, as did sophomore middle hitter Hannah Tevis (Royal Center, Ind.), while sophomore setter Dakota Stanichuk (Athens, Mich.) led the way in assists (39) and service aces (three).

SMC, moving to 1-4 on the season, broke away from a 23-23 first set tie with the final two points, but the Spartans, much to the delight of their home crowd, answered by rallying back from a 27-26 second set deficit with three straight to win 29-27. MU, dipping to 1-4, tried to overcome early visiting leads in the third and fourth sets but St. Mary's closed it out with 25-20 and 25-21 finals.

"Overall, it was a good match (for us)," Paulsen said. "We knew they'd be ready to come out and get after it tonight after last weekend where they saw some tough competition, and we were wanting to do the same. I thought several good things happened … it just comes down to needing to be more consistent throughout."

MU continues its early-season run against the MIAA Saturday, Sept. 10. They travel to Trine University for a triangular with the Thunder and Kalamazoo College. Match times are 1 and 3 p.m.