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JIMMIES ROLL: Michaletz leads UJ volleyball past Briar Cliff

University of Jamestown's Britta Knudson tips a ball over the net against Briar Cliff's Analyse Stupleton and Grace Whitlaw Thursday night at Newman Arena. Brita Fagerlund / For the Sun

Out of a handful of outside weapons possessed by the University of Jamestown women's volleyball team, one was bound to step up Thursday at Harold Newman Arena.

It was Ellie Michaletz's turn to dazzle hosting Briar Cliff University (Iowa). The sophomore from Aitkin, Minn., scored six of her match-high 11 kills down the stretch in a deciding fourth set, sparking the Jimmies to a big 3-1 Great Plains Athletic Conference victory over the Chargers.

"We talk a lot about our own special sauce and really working together as a team," Michaletz said. "We normally don't have any huge big shots that (teams) have to look out for, so it's really just us working together.

"I wouldn't have been able to do it without that pass, or my set, or even my middles telling my block for me."

Jamestown dug itself a seemingly disastrous hole after winning the opening set 25-17. The Jimmies completely fell apart in committing 13 attacking errors in the second frame, including five during an early 7-0 Chargers' run that put the visitors out front 14-7. Briar Cliff would roll 25-13 in set 2.

"I just said, 'You guys, that was the definition of giving a game away,'" UJ volleyball coach Jon Hegerle said. "I don't know if I've been here where we've played any worse. And, why that happens? That's just always a huge mystery."

But the Jimmies regained their competitive spirit in the third. After attacking at minus-.085 in the second the Jimmies bounced back to swing .233 in the third and win 25-21.

Michaletz and junior Jordan Thomas were now getting a run at outside, after senior Kori Buchanan and freshman Anna Holen struggled early.

Britta Knudson was a rock in the middle again, posting 10 kills (.375), while libero Julina Niemeier (27 digs) and defensive specialist Meghan Orr (21 digs) were kept busy in the back most of the evening. Setters Miranda Lowman and Jackie Meiklejohn turned in 28 and 17 assists, respectively.

Michaletz finished the night with an attacking percentage of .467. Her first four kills of the final frame helped flip a 12-9 Chargers' advantage into a 15-14 Jimmie lead. The home team wouldn't trail again, winning 25-20.

"We haven't had many teams where when things aren't going well we can throw in some other kids and they can actually step it up like that," Hegerle said of Michaletz. "We've got four really good outside hitters that on any night can take over a match. Kori and Anna have been playing so well lately and they just weren't connecting today.

"So to put Jordan and Ellie in, and they came in with a lot of energy and confidence and just got after it," Hegerle added. "Ellie really had a nice night hitting the ball. It was like there was no block up."

It was a big win for Jamestown in the GPAC, as they move to 10-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play. With five ranked teams littering the Jimmies' new conference standings there just isn't any room for error.

"We went through some growing pains in this match, but we started the match well and we ended the match well," Hegerle said. "So that was good."

Jamestown now turns its attention to 16th-ranked Northwestern, which it hosts this Saturday, Sept. 15, beginning at 5 p.m. Northwestern (10-4, 1-1) swept Briar Cliff (7-4, 1-2) on Sept. 4.

"Every one counts," Michaletz said. "It's really just about us building our pile and getting that momentum."

(RV) Jamestown 3, Briar Cliff 1

BC 17 25 21 20

UJ 25 13 25 25

BC—Kills: Grace Hanno 10, Victoria Gonzalez 13. Assists: Maureen Imrie 18, Delaney Meyer 13. Digs: Danielle Coronado 14.

UJ—Kills: Elie Michaletz 11, Britta Knudson 10, Corina Ruud 9, Kennedy Conzemius 8, Jordan Thomas 6, Anna Holen 4. Assists: Miranda Lowman 28, Jackie Meiklejohn 17. Aces: Julina Niemeier, Sydney Ellingson. Digs: Niemeier 27, Meghan Orr 21, Ellingson 9. Blocks: Knudson 4, Conzemius 4.

Records: Jamestown 10-1, 3-0. Briar Cliff 7-4, 1-2 GPAC.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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