No. 7 Tommies defeat Cobbers, retain MIAC lead

Junior middle blocker Paige Brimeyer’s 10 kills helped the St. Thomas volleyball team sweep Concordia-Moorhead 3-0 Oct. 2, at Schoenecker Arena.

The victory marked the team’s 14th straight win of the season and its 22nd consecutive win on the Tommies’ home court.

Coach Thanh Pham said he attributes the victory to the team’s defensive effort.

<p>Senior Kia Johnson waits for a pass on a serve receive. The Tommies went on to sweep the Cobbers in three matches. (Sean Crotty/TommieMedia)</p>
Senior defensive specialist Kia Johnson waits for a pass on a serve receive. The Tommies went on to sweep the Cobbers in three matches. (Sean Crotty/TommieMedia)

“I think we rest our hat a lot on defense and scrappy plays, and when we can dig the ball and make amazing pushes, it really sparks up our offense,” Pham said. “We feel like we are a really good defensive team.”

Brimeyer came out with a bang with her first kill of the match, giving the Tommies an early 1-0 lead in set one. Brimeyer hit .455 for the match. The Cobbers, the second-place team in the conference tied with the College of St. Benedict, didn’t let the Tommies get too far ahead. Concordia-Moorhead battled point by point with St. Thomas to tie the match early on (5-5).

Sophomore outside hitter Jill Greenfield took the 7-6 lead for the Tommies with her solo block, sealing the ball on the Cobbers’ side. Greenfield had seven kills and 18 digs in the match. The Cobbers didn’t let the Tommies keep their lead for long as they battled back, securing a lead at 19-17.

Brimeyer took matters into her own hands with her game-altering rip down the line to tie the match up at 21. The team pulled away from the Cobbers for a final time, finishing the set 25-21 and clinching the first set victory.

Junior setter Katie Maher said she believes the victory was due to the Tommies’ determination.

“We try to focus on our side of the net and bring our game,” Maher said.

Maher finished with 24 assists and nine digs against the Cobbers.

Brimeyer got St. Thomas off to an early lead in the second set, nailing another kill down on the Cobbers’ side. Brimeyer continued to keep the Tommies in the lead with her double block with sophomore middle blocker Kelly Foley. Her team continued to keep its lead until the Cobbers stepped up and snagged a 13-10 lead.

After taking a timeout, St. Thomas came back onto the court with more spark and tenacity. Foley pounded a kill cross-court, reducing the Tommies’ deficit to three points. Foley then tied the set at 15 with another kill.

Junior middle blocker Mackenzie Piechowski blocked a Cobber hit at the net, giving the team a 21-17 lead. Piechowski had four blocks and five kills throughout the match. The Tommies secured set No. 2 with sophomore opposite Sara Atkinson’s kill, finishing with a 25-20 victory.

The Tommies carried their spark into set No. 3 with a double block by Brimeyer and Foley. The team held a 4-0 lead, forcing the Cobbers to take a timeout early on in set three. St. Thomas continued to dominate as Greenfield pressed a solo block over the net, giving the team a 12-6 lead. The Tommies didn’t let up, extending their lead to 20-11.

Atkinson and Piechowski put the set victory within reach after their double block keeping the team in front 23-14. The Tommies closed the match with a final score of 25-16.

Brimeyer said she found it reassuring to see the team alone atop the MIAC standings.

“It was really nice knowing that we could get a two-game lead up on everyone in the conference,” Brimeyer said.

The Tommies travel to Waverly, Iowa for the Wartburg Invitational Oct. 5-6.

Pham said he knows the team must maintain its focus on the court.

“We really don’t pay attention to records, we just want to work hard all the time. The wins and losses take care of (themselves),” Pham said.

Sean Crotty can be reached at