Pipers prevail: Hands to the sky

Hamline volleyball remains unbeaten at Hutton Arena after winning conference opener for the first time since the turn of the millennium.


Gino Terrell

The Pipers celebrate after scoring against the Carleton Knights in the second set, (left to right) senior Stephanie Kaup, junior Katie Ayres, junior Michelle Mattke and junior Vassi Prattas.

The Pipers downed Carleton 3-1 last Wednesday evening in Hutton Arena to win their MIAC opener for the first time in over a decade. The victory took the volleyball team’s winning streak to eight before sliding to 9-2 this past weekend.

Head Coach Becky Egan’s team faced a tough Carleton opponent that came in with a 10-2 record, but the Pipers overcame some early struggles and adversity to win their first and second sets against the Knights, with scores of 25-23 and 29-27.

After they won the second set, senior co-captain Lynsey Reimer ran by the home crowd with her index finger pointed in the air.

Senior co-captain Lynsey Reimer celebrates during the Pipers second set rally against the Carleton Knights on Sept. 17.
Gino Terrell
Senior co-captain Lynsey Reimer celebrates during the Pipers second set rally against the Carleton Knights on Sept. 17.

Carleton bounced back to beat the Pipers in the third set with a score of 21-25, but the Pipers rallied to take down the Knights 25-20 in the fourth and final set.

Junior Katie Ayres impressed with 17 kills and 2 blocks. The Pipers also got strong performances from senior Caitlyn Gottwald, with 11 kills, and junior Michelle Mattke with 10 kills and 10 digs.

Junior Vassi Prattas and sophomore Amelia Jensen each had 24 assists as they split setting duties throughout the night.

Now in her senior season, Gottwald wants to lead by example.

“[I wanted to come into the season] even stronger on the court, a leader and dependable player,” Gottwald said.

Part of Gottwald’s goal to be a leader emphasizes playing strong defense.

“As a team, we believe defense wins games,” Gottwald said.

Last season, the Pipers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by St. Benedict after coming out of nowhere in the MIAC. In the 2013 Preseason Volleyball Coaches’ poll, the Pipers were predicted to finish 11th of 12 teams. Only Macalester was projected to lose more games.

This season, the team has gotten more respect and attention from around the conference. The Pipers are projected to finish 8th of 12 teams in the same coaches’ poll for 2014. The Pipers hope to take their hot start and continue to improve toward a second consecutive playoff run.

Senior Stephanie Kaup is confident the team will continue to build on their momentum from last season. Part of that confidence stems from a solid offseason as the team prepares to play conference favorites, such as St. Thomas and Augsburg.

“They [St. Thomas and Augsburg] are tough, but we will give them a run for their money. They’ll be good games to watch,” Kaup said.

Senior co-captain Paige Walters said their experience last season is a key factor.

“We know what to expect. We’re expecting ourselves to make the playoffs. We’re not exactly the underdogs anymore,” Walters said. “We have such depth, we’re able to make in-game adjustments.”

Reimer agreed with her co-captain’s assessment.

“If I’m not doing well, someone can come in and take my spot,” Reimer said.

Reimer came up big with 25 digs against Carleton.

According to Gottwald, the reason why the Pipers did not advance beyond playing St. Benedict in the first round of the playoffs last year was due to the team’s inability to step up when the game was on the line.

“We had a hard time closing out games,” Gottwald said.

To help play better and faster on the court, the team made it a point of emphasis in the offseason to focus on becoming a closer and more fast-paced unit.

“We’re trying to work on dynamic,” Kaup said.

Reimer also thinks it’s necessary for the team to grow closer and work on pace.

“We have a bond as a family. We can build upon what we did last year,” Reimer said. “They [St. Benedict and Augsburg] don’t give you a chance to keep up. We need to be faster-paced.”

The Pipers also feel more comfortable with Coach Egan as they’ve begun their second season with their head coach.

“It’s pretty much the same routine. They have higher expectations and they [our coaches] push us harder,” Kaup said.


Junior Michelle Mattke sends the ball back over the net to pick up the kill for the Pipers against the Carleton Knights on Sept. 17.
Gino Terrell
Junior Michelle Mattke sends the ball back over the net to pick up the kill for the Pipers against the Carleton Knights on Sept. 17.

Last Friday, Sept. 19, the Pipers lost for the first time this season at St. Catherine’s Invitational Tournament. The team went five sets and lost 3-2 to UW-Stout.

The Pipers quickly rebounded later on Friday. They swept Grinnell 3-0 to close their first day of the tournament on a high note. However, they were defeated the next day to Loras 3-1 and will have to rebound quickly as they will travel to face back to back conference opponents. They will play Concordia  and on Saturday, Sept. 27, they’ll travel to St. Olaf before returning home at Hutton Arena to face Gustavus Adolphus on Friday, Oct. 3.