College volleyball: Torve sisters are a mirror image

Maddy Torve left St. Cloud at 4:30 a.m. Thursday and drove up to Duluth. Torve found the scenic overlook just off Dunedin Avenue in Duluth's Hunters Park, where she hid in the woods and helped document the life-changing moments when Minnesota Dul...

Jed Carlson / Sisters Maddy Torve (14) of St. Cloud State and Emily Torve (4) of Minnesota Duluth meet at the net to battle over a ball in the second set Tuesday evening at Romano Gym. UMD won 3-1.

Maddy Torve left St. Cloud at 4:30 a.m. Thursday and drove up to Duluth.

Torve found the scenic overlook just off Dunedin Avenue in Duluth’s Hunters Park, where she hid in the woods and helped document the life-changing moments when Minnesota Duluth football player Jason Balts asked Torve’s big sister, Emily, a UMD volleyball player, if she would marry him. She said yes.

Talk about a match made in Bulldog heaven.

“Maddy was in on it,” Emily said. “She got some good pictures. It was just really special.”

Jump ahead to Tuesday, and Emily got the last laugh in this sister act as her No. 7 UMD team downed Maddy’s St. Cloud State squad 25-12, 22-25, 25-16, 25-16 in NSIC volleyball before 575 at Romano Gym.


Both Torves are setters, the proverbial quarterbacks of the offense, and they’re both excellent at what they do, as evidenced by Emily’s three straight NSIC setter of the week awards.

The 5-foot-8 Emily Torve had 50 set assists on Tuesday to lead UMD (14-7 overall, 10-2 NSIC), while the 5-11 Maddy Torve had 36 for St. Cloud State (11-7, 7-5).

Setting isn’t easy for any program, but less with the Bulldogs. Coach Jim Boos is in the setter’s ear all the time, but on Tuesday, Boos liked what he has saw as Emily Torve led UMD to a .331 team hitting percentage.

Setters need to quickly adjust on the fly, and Torve, who has a 3.93 grade-point average in chemical engineering, is just the person to do it. Boos called her “ridiculously bright,” something that helps her overcome a lack of height.

“What it boils down to for me is being able to run the offense,” Boos said. “You’ll take a bigger setter if they are equal to the smaller setter in running the offense, but I wouldn’t take a bigger setter in lieu of smaller setter who can run your offense. That’s first and foremost, and Emily has gotten better every year in doing that.”

The younger Torve, meanwhile, has helped turned around the St. Cloud State program.

Last month Maddy helped the Huskies beat the Bulldogs for the first time since 1995, and on Saturday they beat a Southwest Minnesota State team that had just downed UMD.

“It’s fun to be part of a program on the rise,” Maddy said.


And nothing beats going against UMD.

“It’s fun. It’s great competition,” Maddy said. “It’s another step up and makes me want to win even more. Not only are they a ranked team, but it’s also my sister.”

UMD trailed the opening set 10-9 when Emily Torve rattled off 10 straight service points. The Huskies bounced back to win the second set 25-22 before UMD used big runs in the next two sets to take it.

Sophomore Kate Berg had 14 kills and 18 digs to lead UMD, while senior Sarah Kelly added nine blocks to lead the Bulldogs up front.

“We were definitely hoping to prove last match wasn’t an upset, but we just made a few too many errors,” Maddy said. “You eliminate those runs, and we’re right there.”

Emily Torve is the oldest of five siblings of an athletic family from Loretto, Minn. She graduated in 2015 from Heritage Christian Academy in Maple Grove, Minn., and redshirted her first year with the Bulldogs. She is a junior, while Maddy, a 2017 Heritage Christian Academy grad, is a sophomore.

As setters close in age, they knew their chances of playing together at the next level were slim.

“It just didn’t work out,” Emily said. “It would have been fun, but we just knew it the recruiting world we weren’t the right spacing. Usually you want a setter every three years, and since we’re two years apart, that was just too close.”


It wasn’t all bad.

“As fun as it would be to play together, it’s also fun to play against each other,” Maddy said.

“I think it’s more fun,” Emily responded.

If not for the height difference and different uniforms, the Torves are hard to tell apart. Fans catch themselves doing a double-take.

“They used to joke about that all the time in recruiting,” Emily said.

Besides the similarities in looks, there are also similarities in style.

“It’s funny because we feel like we can read each other’s minds,” Maddy said. “We know what each other is going to do before it happens, even when our teammates can’t read it. It’s like playing against yourself.”


Jed Carlson / Minnesota Duluth’s Emily Torve (4) reacts after blocking a St.Cloud State player in the first set Tuesday at Romano Gym.

Jon Nowacki is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune
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