CLINTON – The Ashford University volleyball team split Saturday’s doubleheader as the team hosted the second day of the Saints Invitational Tournament.
Ashford was beaten in the opener by 17th-ranked Bellevue University 3-1 before taking care of Clarke in the third-place match by the same score. Saturday’s finale marked the second time AU beat Clarke in a matter of 10 days.
“Overall, it was a really good weekend,” coach Micah Cewe said. “We played really good defense at times, and that really helped our offense get going. We had a really good one-two punch, and when our defense is solid it really fuels our attackers.”
The hosts rode a wave of momentum in the opener, fresh off of a pair of victories on Friday night, and took the first set from the nationally-ranked Bruins 26-24. Ashford put down 16 kills in the opening set and took advantage of five BU attack errors.
However, Bellevue answered the call following the set and took the next three en route to the four set victory.
Junior Morgan Martells led Ashford with eight kills, while Victoria Day and Lauren Lockhart each added seven.
Ashford (11-5) got back on the winning track in the weekend finale as the team took the first two sets and won Set 4 to hand Clarke a 3-1 loss.
The home squad took Set 125-17 before taking a commanding 2-0 lead by grinding out a 28-26 in Set 2. The Saints dropped the third set but bolted back with a 25-22 victory to close out the Crusaders.
Micah Wedemeier put down a team-high 13 kills, Kotch posted 12 kills while Martells added 10 kills and blocked five opponent shots, including three solo blocks.
“Victoria and Morgan really stepped up for us this weekend, Morgan especially on the block,” Cewe said. “Defensively, our defensive specialists played great defense and were really scrappy. They got touches on every ball which is something we really stressed this weekend.”
Danielle Rzewnicki dished out 27 assists against Clarke while Samantha Schultz picked up 27 digs to go along with 17 defensive stops in the opener against Bellevue.
Day and Martells were named to the all-tournament team. Bellevue’s Sunny Bell claimed tournament most valuable player honors.
Ashford returns to action Tuesday with a 7 p.m. match at St. Ambrose.