The final kill of the Minot State University volleyball team's 3-1 win over the University of Mary on Tuesday came, fittingly, off the hand of Mallory Sall.
The freshman outside hitter racked up a match-high 30 kills at the MSU Dome - 19 more than the closest player - as the Beavers knocked off Mary 25-23, 25-20, 24-26, 25-23 for the program's first Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference victory.
Sall tallied 72 total attacks and was noticeably fatigued at times, but she didn't mind the workload.
Minot State University freshman Mallory Sall attacks the ball against University of Mary blockers Morgan Zabel (10) and Morgan Dake (11) on Tuesday at the MSU Dome.
"I love hitting the ball," she said. "That's my job."
The Beavers (5-17 overall, 1-11 NSIC) jumped out to early leads in games one and two and withstood Marauders runs to take a 2-0 lead. In game three, Mary (3-16, 3-9) took the lead at 14-13 and never relinquished it, though MSU stayed with the Marauders nearly point for point.
After Mary took a 15-9 lead in game four, MSU coach Travis Ward told sophomore setter Emily Byrne to set everyone but Sall.
Ward said he planned to concede the fourth game in order to rest Sall for a game-five push, but the rest of the Beavers stepped up and crawled back into the set.
Freshman middle hitters Tarah Dabovich and Erin Davis combined for three kills in a short stretch, sophomore right-side hitter Mariah Zaback added another and Sall got back into the mix late to close the Beavers' first conference victory.
"All of us, we're just so happy," Sall said. "I know we're gonna go back tonight and it's just gonna be a better environment for everyone."
Sall showed the ability to take aggressive swings from awkward angles, picking up a few cheap kills and keeping the Beavers in advantageous positions during rallies.
"She's nice to have out there," said Byrne, who finished with a match-high 51 assists. "I can just throw the ball out there and she can do something with it. She's grown a ton with her shots and everything that she can do with the ball is impressive. When she goes off, she goes off."
The Beavers were able to dictate play more effectively than they have in the last couple of weeks - likely a product of playing an unranked squad for the first time in four matches.
"The ranked teams are ranked for a reason, so they're pretty tough, but we held our own," Byrne said. "This match was a match we knew we could hang in and win, so we went in a little more confidently than in past matches."
Ward credited the Beavers' improved play to their defense. MSU finished with 73 digs, including a team-high 17 by senior Shari Hewson and 15 by freshman libero Ashley Heavenor.
Freshman middle blocker Paige Smith led Mary with 11 kills and senior libero Valerie Lesu picked up a match-high 25 digs.
MSU plays at the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) at 7 p.m. Friday.