Beavers top Sioux Falls in five sets

In a battle of evenly matched opponents, a little luck can sway the outcome.

Minot State University outside hitter Jen Dixon had a match-high 22 kills, sophomore Mallory Sall added 16 and the Beavers were the beneficiaries of a set-changing point penalty in a five-set win over the University of Sioux Falls on Friday at the MSU Dome. The Beavers won 19-25, 32-30, 20-25, 25-16, 15-5.

With USF leading game two 22-17, the official gave the Cougars (8-6 overall, 1-5 Northern Sun) a red card, ruling that the team was too slow returning to the court following a timeout. USF had won three straight points before the point penalty, but MSU fought back and took the marathon game.

MSU (7-8, 3-3) rallied again down 2-1 in sets, easily taking the final two games.

Setters Brooke French and Emily Byrne combined for 51 assists, and Lauren Dunkle (9 kills) and Tarah Dabovich (8) chipped in offensively.

“We were pretty balanced tonight when we were passing well,” MSU coach Travis Ward said. “I thought our out-of-system play was better than normal tonight. Lauren stepped up and had some nice kills. You have ups and downs as a freshman and I thought she handled it better, some of the pressure.”

Sall and Dixon took turns dominating stretches of the fourth set and USF gave the Beavers plenty of help in the fifth. The Cougars had three attack errors, a service error and a net violation as the Beavers took a 9-3 lead and cruised from there.

MSU redshirt freshman Shaunessy Dauwalder, a Stanley native, continued to see more playing time. The undersized (5-foot-8) front-row player had four kills and three blocks.

“I love playing with the team that I have,” Dauwalder said. “It’s just such high-caliber and the level that they play … it’s so awesome to be out there with them.”

Junior Kate Hart led USF with 16 kills and libero Andrea Odbert had a match-high 21 digs. Dixon had a team-high 17 digs for MSU.

The Beavers host No. 7 Southwest Minnesota State at 3 p.m. today. The Mustangs (11-3, 6-0) swept the University of Mary on Friday night and beat USF in five sets on Sept. 24.

Daniel Allar reports on Minot State University athletics. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.