The Yellowjackets volleyball team

The UW-Superior volleyball team’s upset bid against top-seeded Northwestern fell just short in a five-set thriller in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) semifinals Wednesday, Nov. 6 at the Ericksen Center.

After dropping the first two sets, the fourth-seeded Yellowjackets came storming back to win the next two and fourth a deciding fifth set to advance to the conference-championship match. The Eagles, asserted themselves in the final set, winning 15-6. Northwestern went on to host Minnesota Morris, winning 3-0 to advance to the NCAA tournament.

The ‘Jackets got 15 kills from Hannah Goggleye (Calumet, Minn./Greenway) and 13 from Cami Sletta (Willmar, Minn./Willmar Senior) to lead the offensive push. Yana Carrera (North Mankato, Minn./Mankato West Senior) tallied 25 digs while Brylee Colligan (Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji) had 20 to go with nine kills in her final collegiate match. Gina Baertsch (Farmington, Minn./Farmington Area) collected a double-double of 24 assists and 16 digs. Northwestern outhit UWS, .224-.146 and had 10 more kills, 68-58. The Eagles also led in blocks, 11-2, and digs, 109-90.

UWS fell by scores of 25-13 and 25-22 before winning 28-26 and 25-21, setting the stage for the fifth set. Northwestern (23-8) took the first four points of the fifth set on three kills and block before UWS got on the scoreboard. Sletta did so with a kill from Baertsch after a timeout. That started a three-point spurt for the ‘Jackets that cut the deficit to 4-3. But the Eagles won four straight and 10-of-11 points to put the match out of reach.

The loss ends the ‘Jackets season at 16-19 overall and is the final career match for Colligan and A.J. Runck (Annandale, Minn./Apple Valley).

On Monday, Nov. 11, the league announced that five UW-Superior volleyball players had been named to the All-UMAC teams.

Sletta, a junior, earned first-team recognition, while Colligan and Carrera, a freshman, claimed second-team honors. Sophomore Goggleye and freshman Baertsch were honorable-mention selections.

Sletta, a right-side hitter, had a .261 hitting percentage, led the UMAC in kills (424) and was second in kills per set (3.42). She was also topped in the league in points and was second in points per set at 454 and 3.66, respectively. Sletta finished fourth in the league in attack efficiency. The first-team selection is the second of Sletta’s career, having also earned it as a sophomore in her first season.

Colligan, an outside hitter, was seventh in the conference in digs (407) and 11th in digs per set (3.18).

The All-UMAC honor is the first of Colligan’s career, having been a part of the UMAC Sportsmanship team last season. She is the ‘Jackets representative on the sportsmanship team again in 2019.

The ‘Jackets’ defensive specialist, Carrera led the team with 409 digs and 4.26 per set, numbers that ranked sixth and seventh in the league, respectively. She recorded double-digit digs in 15 matches, including the final 12 of the season.

An outside hitter, Goggleye led the conference with a .295 hitting percentage, was 12th in kills with 208 and 15th in kills per set at 2.08. She was also seventh in the league in block assists (54), total blocks (66) and blocks per set (0.66). The honor is the first of her career for Goggleye.

Baertsch, a setter and outside hitter, led the team in service aces with 35, the 10th-best mark in the UMAC. She was also second on the team in assists with 469, fourth in kills with 163 and fifth in blocks with 39.