Volleyball coach earns 100th win

SUCCESS UND coach Ashley Hardee secures victories Thursday and Saturday.

North Dakota celebrates at the net Saturday after defeating Portland State. Photo by Keisuke Yoshimura.

North Dakota volleyball coach Ashley Hardee has won 100 career matches with UND — all within five years.

He reached this milestone Thursday night when the UND women defeated Eastern Washington in three sets, and continued on to surpass Hardee’s 100-win mark Saturday when North Dakota beat Portland State in five grueling sets.

“It’s a lot of hard work by these girls,” Hardee said. “I guess it goes back to some of the players that have done a lot for our program … I could go on and on.”

Hardee is fourth in program history for career wins and has the best winning percentage among coaches all-time at .714, notching his 100th win in only 140 matches.

He didn’t have to wait long into this year’s season to acheive the big accomplishment. The UND women have won 12 of their last 13 games and remain the lone undefeated threat in the Big Sky Conference.

While acknowledging his recent accomplishment, Hardee remains focused on the season looking forward to Big Sky wins.

100th win 

Thursday’s match against the Eagles started out with thunder from Ronni Munkeby, who smashed a couple of kills early.

While North Dakota claimed the first two sets, the third and final set saw four tie scores and three lead changes. With back and forth action until the score reached 10-10, Robinson and Munkeby got a big block that put UND in the lead, which it held onto for the duration of the match.

North Dakota had 96 total attacks, just two more than EWU. Senior co-captains Munkeby and Lisa Parlich were dominating forces for North Dakota. Parlich, who stands 6 feet 2 inches tall, put down 10 kills on 17 attempts without making a single error, while PS Doors Player of the Week Munkeby, who had a whopping 17 kills and only one error, hit .800 on the night.

Nikki Husfeldt, UND’s starting setter, had 36 assists, seven digs, and two kills Thursday evening.

“I would like to give a lot of credit to Nikki,” Munkeby said. “I don’t think she gets enough credit sometimes. She knows who to set, when to set. She’s the one who is leading that.”

Portland State battle

North Dakota returned to the Betty on Saturday afternoon with the hope of continuing its winning streak.

After an intense five sets that consisted of 42 tie scores and 17 lead changes, UND held on for its eighth Big Sky win — taking the victory in five sets.

“We knew Portland State would be a more aggressive, offensive team and really challenge our block and they did, as we did to them,” Hardee said. “Two really good offensive teams here today, and there will be more blocks because of it.”

North Dakota held onto the lead in set three for most of the game, losing control late in play when Portland got a kill and an ace, followed by a UND attack error, tying the score at 19-19.

There were four more ties before Portland finally sealed the win with two consecutive kills.

Set four followed a similar routine with Portland out blocking UND again to tie the sets at two apiece. UND led for much of the game, but was unable to close out the match, as Portland State forced a race to 15 in a fifth set.

With both teams tied at two sets, the playing field was level going into set five. North Dakota held on as Parlich tied the game at 16-16. Kills from freshman Anna Pioske and a final smash from Munkeby gave Hardee his 101st match win and North Dakota its eighth consecutive Big Sky Conference win.

“It’s definitely special to win this game, especially since we tied with them last year … but this streak is really important to us, this undefeated (streak) that we have going on,” Parlich said. “Coming here to beat them on our own court means the world to us, and it’ll definitely keep us going into the next week.”

North Dakota is back on the road Thursday, when it will head to Cedar City to play Southern Utah. Last year, UND split with the Thunderbirds, sweeping them at the Betty and later losing 3-2 in Utah.

“I love our team, and I love what we do … I just don’t think we are good enough to look past anybody,” Hardee said. “We haven’t won a Big Sky championship yet, and until we do, we are going to play and compete as an underdog, and we are not going to overlook anybody.”

Marie Monson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]