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Dickinson State battles, falls to Hardrockers

RAPID CITY, S.D. -- With only one set to go, the Dickinson State volleyball team looked as if they had a shot at their first win on the season against South Dakota School of Mines Tuesday night.

But the Blue Hawks fell apart in the fifth set due to mental fatigue as the Hardrockers capitalized on mistakes to win 25-21, 25-27, 25-22, 22-25, 15-2.

DSU head coach Jon Stenman said this was the best offensive performance by his team all season, with the exception of the fifth set.

"We talked a lot about the practice before about not letting things get to us, and keeping a perspective about what's going on and we can't think about what happened the point before or we're not ready for the next point," Stenman said. "We spent a lot of time challenging, especially the new kids to really be able to push through the mental fatigue that we show."

While the team overall played well, Melissa Avila statistically carried the team with 24 kills, six digs and two aces. Freshmen Magdalyn Rauser and Whitney Weidow each set their career highs in kills with 11 and seven, respectively. This was the first game the Blue Hawks also had players with double digits in kills between Avila and Rauser.

"We really accomplished a lot but unfortunately in the fifth set we made a couple of bad decisions and then we got flustered," Stenman said. "Once we got flustered, they smelled blood and they took it right to us."

The Blue Hawks host Rocky Mountain College Saturday at 7 p.m. for their first home match of the season. Despite the loss, Stenman feels there are lots of positives to take away and to build on for Saturday.

"I feel mentally we turned a corner," Stenman said. "We started to make the progress that we weren't making in the first few matches this was by far we've played all around. Would have been nice to win but I think we can build on that. We know what to do now we won a couple sets and I think with our home crowd behind us on Saturday I expect good things."

DSU 21 27 22 25 2 -- 2

Mines 25 25 25 22 15 -- 3

Kills: DSU, Melissa Avila 24, Maggie Rauser 11, Whitney Weidow 7, Kelly O'Connor 6, Aly Schieno 4, Morgan Lutz 1, Jenifer Huebner 1. M, Janelle Strampe 24, Samantha Johnson 18, Justine Blade 12, Carsyn Garcia 7, Kirsten Johnson 5, Hannah Benedix 4, Hannah Redman 2, Kayla Marchus 1.

Blocks: DSU, Rauser 1, O'Connor 1, Weidow 1. M, Garcia 1, S. Johnson 1, Strampe 1.

Aces: DSU, Natasha Malana 5, Avila 2, Justine Braunagel 2, O'Connor 2. M, Marchus 3, Redman 2, Garcia 1, K. Johnson 1, Strampe 1.

Digs: DSU, Malana 24, Avila 6, Braunagel 4, Huebner 4, O'Connor 3, Weidow 2, Lutz 1, Meghan Meyer 1. M, Mikkella Reese 21, Strampe 10, K. Johnson 6, Karli Sanders 5, Marchus 4, S. Johnson 4, Garcia 3, Blade 2, Redman 2, Jocelyn Morman 1.

Assists: DSU, O'Connor 30, Meyer 1. M, Garcia 34, Reese 3, Strampe 2, Garcia 1.

Records: DSU 0-8, M 2-3