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Wolves to face Wayne in NSIC tourney

Northern State University volleyball coach Brent Aldridge, center, talks to his players during a time out in Saturday’s match against Winona State University at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 11/13/2021

The Northern State volleyball team will look to get back on track when the Wolves meet Wayne State in the opening round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament on Thursday. The two teams meet at 5 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.

Wayne swept a previous matchup on its home court earlier this season.

Northern had won six straight matches prior to a regular-season setback to Winona State last Saturday. That prompted Wolves coach Brent Aldridge to say it really doesn’t matter who the opponent in the conference tourney is if his team doesn’t play better.

“I don’t know whether there is a great matchup,” Aldridge said. “If we can’t side out, there isn’t a great matchup for us.”

Wayne enters the match as the fourth seed, while the Wolves are the fifth seed. The winner meets the winner of the St. Cloud State-Southwest Minnesota State in the semifinals on Friday.

The Wolves lost hitter Natalia Szybinska to an injury last weekend, but Aldridge said everybody has to deal with those things this late in the season.

“Our kids were 6-1 over the last seven, so there’s some positives,” Aldridge said. “Injuries and stuff like that come into play, but everyone’s got them this time of the year. Everyone’s banged up a little bit.”

Aldridge said the Wolves will need to be better from both the service line and also the front row as they attempt to get their offense back on track.

Northern State University’s Keri Walker, center, celebrates winning a point with teammate Olivia Rud, right, as the Wolves’ Hanna Thompson, left and Laura Ochsner, back center, look on during Saturday’s match against Winona State University at Wachs Arena. Photo by John Davis taken 11/13/2021

“We’re going to have to be able to side out at a much higher rate,” Aldridge said. “We’re going to have to be able to point score, in other words we have to serve a little tougher and if we get them out of system we have to make sure we can turn them over for a point (in transition). Right now offensively, we have to be a little better, whether in transition or off serve receive.

Aldridge knows what his team is capable of. During the season the Wolves beat the likes of Winona State and Concordia-St. Paul, both seeded higher than Northern in the conference tourney.

“Can we go play a little better VB?” Aldridge asked. “We have to pass a little better so we can run some quick.”

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