ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – Sarah Nielsen (Sr./Altoona, Wis./Altoona) collected 13 kills in the night’s first match, then smashed her previous career best with 17 more against Northland College to keep the Carleton College volleyball team undefeated this season.
In the opener, the Knights (6-0) overcame a two-set deficit to defeat Central College (Iowa) 21-25, 15-25, 25-15, 25-15, and 15-10. While Nielsen and Jessa Youso (Sr./Virginia, Minn./Virginia) each had a match-high 13 kills, it was the service game that shifted the momentum.
Early in the third game, Alicia Flatt (So./Walnut Creek, Calif./Carondelet) served three straight aces to give Carleton a lead it would not relinquish. Liz Groesbeck (So./Henderson, Nev./Green Valley) closed out the set with the Knights’ fifth ace of the game.
In game four, Carleton went on a 15-3 run and didn’t look back. The final game was hardly close as Carleton hit .550 including three kills apiece from Haley Woodward (Jr./Edina, Minn./Edina) and Nielsen.
Flatt finished this match with 47 assists, 14 digs, and five aces. Groesbeck and Camille Benson (Fy./Savage, Minn./Burnsville) had 16 digs apiece.
“We started off slow tonight and struggled to find our rhythm until our tough serving got us back into the match,” said head coach Heidi Jaynes. “I'm so proud of how the girls fought back, remained mentally tough, and were able to regroup and get a big win for us. They carried that aggressiveness into our second match"
Against Northland, the Knights hit .398 as a team, their highest figure since the 2010 season opener. Nielsen was dominant, collecting the 17 kills against only 3 errors in 24 attempts for a .583 percentage, ranking just outside the top-10 in program history.
Lexi Papke (Fy./Strum, Wis./Regis) contributed nine kills and no errors in 18 attacks, while Sami Kemper (Jr./Prior Lake, Minn./Prior Lake) made her season debut and tied for third on the roster with four kills.
"Sami did a great job of stepping in and adding some offense on the outside," said Jaynes who was able to get all of her available players into the match.
Day two of the tournament sees the Knights face Linfield College and Martin Luther College.