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Scots Drop 5-Set Heartbreaker in Season Finale

The Monmouth College volleyball team dropped a heartbreaker in five sets on Saturday to end their season. The Scots (11-13, 4-4) fell 24-26, 25-27, 25-22, 25-19, 15-12 to Grinnell in a match that determined the final qualifier in the Midwest Conference tournament.

The first set featured 10 ties and five lead changes as the teams traded points early on. Layne Wright (Davenport, Iowa) had a kill for a 5-3 Monmouth lead and the Scots pushed the lead to three on two separate occasions. Grinnell tied the set at 10 and eventually took a 14-12 lead before Zoe Nizzia (Pekin, Illinois) got a kill. Grinnell's largest lead of the set came at 20-16 before Amanda Dybal (Apex, North Carolina) got a kill and Wright added an ace. The Scots took the lead at 21-20 before ties at 21, 22, 23 and 24. Wright got a kill for a 25-24 lead and Alana Robertson (Mapleton, Illinois) finished off the set with a kill.

The second set was even more back-and-forth with seven lead changes and 11 ties. Kills from Nizzia and Paige Bergschneider (Alexander, Illinois) gave the Scots an 8-4 lead. Grinnell sored six in a row to take a 14-11 lead before Robertson got a kill. The set was tied at 20 when Wright's kill gave the lead back to the Scots. The teams traded points until Dybal got two straight kills for a 27-25 set win and a 2-0 Monmouth lead.

Grinnell jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third set but Monmouth pulled even at 8-8. The Scots led 10-8 on a kill by CeCe Palladino (Volo, Illinois) but Grinnell won the next three points. The teams traded points with nobody leading by more than two. Consecutive kills from Wright gave Monmouth a 22-21 lead but Grinnell called timeout and won the next four points to steal the set 25-22 and extend the match.

Monmouth never led in the fourth set with ties at 1-1, 4-4, 6-6 and 8-8. Grinnell led 12-9 and 17-14 before extending the lead to five. The Scots got two kills from Dybal by Grinnell pulled away for a 25-19 set win.

Wright got a kill to start the fifth set and Dybal's kill made it 2-0. Another kill from Dybal gave Monmouth a 4-2 lead before Grinnell tied the set. Monmouth led 6-5 before the set was tied twice and Grinnell took the lead at 8-7. Dybal got another kill to cut the lead to 11-10 but the Scots couldn't pull even. Grinnell scored the next two and made it 14-11 before winning the set and match on a kill at 15-12.

In her final match at Monmouth, Dybal led the Scots with a career-high 20 kills, including the team's final three points of the match. Wright had 17 kills and Nizzia added 10. Savannah Robinson (Delavan, Illinois) led the Scots with 28 digs while Wright had 19 and Dybal had 15. Bergschneider had 51 assists on Monmouth's 57 kills. Dybal had two aces and three blocks while Robertson also had three blocks.

MONMOUTH MOMENTS: Dybal hit .367 with a career-high 20 kills. The 20 kills are the second-most by a Monmouth player this season after Wright had 24 against Bethany Lutheran on Sept. 1. Bergschneider's 51 assists are a season-high and one off her career-high from Oct. 7, 2022 against Webster. The match featured 39 ties and 19 lead changes. There were at least 10 ties in each of the first three sets. Monmouth had five aces to Grinnell's four and only four service errors while the Pioneers had 13. Blocks were even at six each. The Scots honored seniors Ana Iatauo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Kalista Merrill (Colona, Illinois) in a pre-game ceremony.

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