ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – Sarah Nielsen (Sr./Altoona, Wis./Altoona) tallied 41 kills on the day, but the Carleton College volleyball team absorbed its first losses of the 2012 campaign, falling in five sets to Linfield College before dropping a 3-1 decision to Martin Luther College.
Nielsen had 23 kills against Linfield, the 14th-highest total in program history and most since Samantha Hendricks ’08 recorded two dozen vs. Hamline University in 2007. Nielsen finished the four-match weekend with 71 kills en route to being named to the All-Tournament team.
After a dramatic rally from a two sets-to-none deficit on Friday evening versus Central College, it appeared that the Knights might repeat that effort in their first match on day two. Linfield took the first two games 25-19 and 25-23 before Carleton finished the third game on a 10-4 run and carried the momentum over into the fourth game, posting a 25-13 decision. The comeback was nearly complete as Carleton led 11-10 in the fifth game before the Wildcats closed the match with a 5-1 spurt.
Nielsen had 23 kills with six errors in 48 attempts to hit .354. Sami Kemper (Jr./Prior Lake, Minn./Prior Lake) was second on the squad with 10 kills. Five players finished with double-digit digs paced by Camille Benson (Fy./Savage, Minn./Burnsville) and Chloe Nelson (Jr./Madison, Wis./West) at 28 and 20, respectively. Alicia Flatt (So./Walnut Creek, Calif./Carondelet) added 17 digs in addition to dishing out 50 assists, matching her career high.
"We started off sluggish before we made some adjustments and turned the momentum our way,” said head coach Heidi Jaynes. “The team fought hard but couldn't hold back Linfield in the final set.”
It was more of the same against Martin Luther as the Carleton once again dropped the first two games, this time by scores of 25-17 and 25-23. Carleton got back on track in the third game, hitting .333 on the way to a 25-21 score. Game four was a back-and-forth tussle before the Martin Luther snapped a 17-17 tie and pulled away.
Nielsen had 18 more kills in the nightcap, Jessa Youso (Sr./Virginia, Minn./Virginia) hit .519 with 14 kills and no errors on 27 attempts, and Flatt broke her career best with 53 assists. That did not prove to be enough to overcome a 21-kill, 17-dig performance of MLC’s Rebecca Engelbrecht.
“Sarah Nielsen had an outstanding weekend and found her grove,” said Jaynes “Camille Benson was everywhere on defense this weekend, and Jessa Youso also had a great four matches. We look forward to getting back in the gym to continue working on improving and getting ready for our conference opener on Wednesday."
The Knights travel to St. Paul, Minn. to face St. Catherine University at 7 p.m.