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UMD volleyball team falls in regional final

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Duluth's quest for an NCAA Elite Eight volleyball berth again ran into a familiar roadblock: Concordia-St. Paul. The top-ranked Golden Bears won their 34th consecutive match and fourth straight over the Bulldogs, 25-23, 25-1...

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Duluth's quest for an NCAA Elite Eight volleyball berth again ran into a familiar roadblock: Concordia-St. Paul.

The top-ranked Golden Bears won their 34th consecutive match and fourth straight over the Bulldogs, 25-23, 25-18, 25-19 in the Division II North Central Regional final tonight at Gangelhoff Center.

The teams were meeting in the regional final for the fifth year in a row and Concordia's win gave it a 3-2 edge in those matches. The Golden Bears used a victory in last year's championship match at Romano Gym to spark them to the Division II national title.

Concordia (34-1) broke a 22-22 tie in the first set, winning on a pair of kills by Ellie Duffy and one by Maria Steinhagen.

That momentum seemed to spur Concordia in the next set, which it began by scoring 10 of the first 11 points. The Bulldogs (26-9) never drew closer than five points on three occasions the rest of the set, one in which Concordia's Sadie Kessler had six kills and UMD transfer Whitney Meierotto had five.

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UMD jumped to a 10-5 lead in the third set before the Golden Bears turned to Steinhagen in the middle. After Concordia tied the score at 17, Steinhagen had an ace block and four kills -- including the match-winner -- as the Golden Bears won eight of the final 10 points.

The Golden Bears likely will be back on their home court for the Elite Eight. The top seed will host the tournament Dec. 4-6. Concordia will face the University of New Haven, a 3-2 winner over Dowling.

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