Finlandia battles hard on first day of tourney

WINONA, Minn. – The Finlandia University volleyball team wrapped up the first day of the Saint Mary’s U. Sugar Loaf Classic, Friday night at Gostomski Fieldhouse. The Lions lost 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-11) to Saint Mary’s (2-0) and 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 25-16) to St. Catherine (1-1).

In the opening set, Saint Mary’s jumped to a 10-6 lead. Sophomore Shannon Anderson sparked a comeback run for Finlandia, serving up five straight points for an 11-10 lead.

The Cardinal went on a 7-2 run to lead 17-13. The Lions forced a hitting error to make it 17-15. SMU closed on an 8-3 burst to finish the set.

The second set went back-and-forth early on. Sophomore Monica Freeman found the back to corner to make it 5-4, Finlandia University. Saint Mary’s went on a 12-2 run to effectively end the set.

In the third set, the Cardinals jumped out to a 7-1 lead to control the match.

For Finlandia, senior Katelyn Anderson had nine kills while S. Anderson and sophomore Natalia Vazquez had eight digs each.

For Saint Mary’s, Brandi Blattner had nine kills and Morgan Thomas recorded 13 digs.

In the first set of nightcap, twice St. Catherine had a four-point lead but the Lions refused to quit. Finlandia forced the Wildcats into an attack error to tie the set at 11-11.

SCU went up 15-12 before sophomore Jessie Diaz came up with two points to close the gap to 15-14. Saint Catherine then scored six straight points to take charge.

In the second set, Finlandia University battled toe-to-toe with the Wildcats early. Vazquez took a set from Diaz and crushed it down the line to make it 8-7, SCU. St. Catherine reeled off seven straight points to effectively end the set.

In the third set, Finlandia came out like a house on fire. Junior Emma Nelson hit two aces to get the squad up 3-0. The two teams again slugged it out. Nelson slammed one home straight down the middle.

That put the Lions up 11-10. The Wildcats went on a 9-1 run and controlled the rest of the set.

For Finlandia, sophomore Marina Dalton and Nelson had two service aces while Diaz collected 11 digs.

For St. Catherine, Peyton Baker had nine kills and Shanee Herd had 24 digs.

Finlandia closes out the tournament, Saturday, Sept. 3. The Lions will play St. Norbert at noon and #16 Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 2:00 p.m.