Ryan Shumaker, Athletic Communications
ALVA – The Northwestern Oklahoma State volleyball team made it ten wins in a row with a 3-1 (25-15, 24-26, 25-20, 25-14) victory over Southern Arkansas during Saturday afternoon action inside Percefull Fieldhouse.
Freshman Kaitlyn Robinson captained the offense efficiently all afternoon as she nearly set the school record for assists with 51, one shy of the previous record set back in 2013. That stellar distribution by Robinson allowed the Rangers (14-5, 4-1 GAC) to post a team attack percentage of .388.
The three-headed monster of Jennifer Eubanks, Brooklynn Hesson, and Hannah Williams combined for 48 of the team’s 59 kills. Williams scored points on 17-of-31 attacks for an attack percentage of .500, the highest on the afternoon for the Rangers.
The Rangers used six straight points in the opening set at the 12-11 mark to take the 18-11 advantage, forcing a Southern Arkansas (6-15, 0-7 GAC) timeout. Eubanks and Williams came out firing immediately after the timeout, knocking down a kill each to reach the 20-point mark for the home squad.
Three attack errors from the Muleriders followed up by a service ace from Attica, Kansas native Brooke Ricke closed out the first set for the Black-and-Red, 25-15.
Northwestern dropped the first four points of the second set before defensive specialist Tobi Barker put down three service aces in a row to tie the ballgame up before Eubanks put down a kill to regain the Ranger lead. The Muleriders continued to give the home squad fits on the offensive attack, keeping the game close throughout the midway portion of the set.
Tied up at 16-16, back-to-back kills on the left side of the net sparked the Rangers back into form as they took their largest lead of the set at 21-17. A 4-1 Southern Arkansas run spurred a Ranger timeout with the game at 22-21 in favor of the Black-and-Red. Two straight points coming out of the timeout for the Muleriders provided them with the 23-22 advantage late in the set.
A key kill from senior Liz Dwyer on the right side of the net put a damper on the momentum the Muleriders had gained, and another key service from Barker put the Rangers up 24-23. Three straight Mulerider points following the ace allowed the Rangers to drop their first set in four matches, 26-24.
Northwestern dropped the second set despite hitting .333 as a team, moving their team attack percentage to .397 through two sets of action.
After a disappointing loss in the second set, head coach Jeremy White and company got back on track by jumping out to a 12-6 lead in the third set. The strong start to the third set allowed the Rangers enough room for error despite a strong resurgence from the Muleriders that saw them bring the game all the way back to 24-20 before a strong block at the net by Dwyer sealed the second Ranger victory of the evening, 25-20.
The Rangers slammed the door on the Muleriders in the final set with a 25-14 victory to put the finishing touches on their 10th straight victory of the season.
Northwestern will hit the road for their two biggest tests of the conference season with games against defending regular-season champions Harding and undefeated Arkansas Tech on Oct. 13 and 14th with games set for a 6 p.m. and 2 p.m. start.