Trojans sneak past QuasarsWORTHINGTON — Displaying lots of hustle and a balanced hitting attack, Worthington defeated a scrappy Southwest Star Concept (Heron Lake-Okabena) High School volleyball team Thursday night, three games to one, in the final match of the regular season for both squads. The Trojans won Game 1 by six points, 25-19, but the hustling Quasars battled back and claimed victory in Game 2, 25-21. Breaking from a slim 8-7 lead, Worthington went on a 12-2 run and opened up a commanding 20-9 lead, before posting a 25-18 win in Game 3. Game 4 was the closest contest of the night, with several lead changes early and five tie scores late, but the Trojans prevailed, 25-23, to win the well-played match in four games.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Displaying lots of hustle and a balanced hitting attack, Worthington defeated a scrappy Southwest Star Concept (Heron Lake-Okabena) High School volleyball team Thursday night, three games to one, in the final match of the regular season for both squads.
The Trojans won Game 1 by six points, 25-19, but the hustling Quasars battled back and claimed victory in Game 2, 25-21.
Breaking from a slim 8-7 lead, Worthington went on a 12-2 run and opened up a commanding 20-9 lead, before posting a 25-18 win in Game 3.
Game 4 was the closest contest of the night, with several lead changes early and five tie scores late, but the Trojans prevailed, 25-23, to win the well-played match in four games.
With the victory, the Trojans improve to 22-3 and finish undefeated on the home court, winning all eight of their matches, while compiling an impressive 24-2 game record.
Only Wabasso and SSC (19-8) were able to post game victories against the Trojans at the WHS gym this fall.
“This was an intense match from start to finish,” declared WHS head coach Melissa Schutz. “We had to work for our points because SSC is so good at digging and staying with plays.”
In a match that featured powerful spike kills, lots of well-timed blocks, several ace serves and incredible digs and saves — by both teams — it was the dominating and diversified hitting attack by the Trojans that proved to be the difference in the outcome.
“It is difficult to defend all of their attackers,” said SSC head coach Crystal Fast about Worthington. “That kind of hitting balance throws a team’s defense off and keeps you from getting your own offense set up the way that you would like to.”
While Trojan hitters Martha Alwal (18 kills, nine blocks) and Holli Aggen (16 kills, 23 digs) did the most noticeable damage, the trio of Tiffany Harberts (10 kills, five blocks), Mara Dixon (three kills, two blocks) and Anndi Russell (three kills) also did their share of timely spiking and tipping, helping Worthington win the match.
On the other side of the net, the Quasars smacked 33 kills, but sophomore middle hitter Katey Granstra — who was a dominant force in SSC’s Game 2 victory — had 17 of those attack aces.
“Granstra was big for them in that second game,” noted Schutz. “We adjusted our angles on her and stayed deep, which seemed to help in the last two games.”
12-4 run helps Trojans win Game 1, 25-19
Holding a 9-7 lead in Game 1, a spike kill by Russell sparked a 12-4 Trojan run that lifted WHS to a 21-11 advantage before the Quasars rallied with five straight points, trimming the lead to 21-16.
A pair of remarkable digs by Erika Post (26 digs, five kills, three ace blocks, 11-for-12 serving, six points, one ace) highlighted that SSC surge, along with a slam by Granstra.
A spike kill down the line by Aggen ended SSC’s rally and the Trojans closed out the game, scoring four of the next seven points, ending the contest on a kill by Alwal.
In the middle of the game, with the Trojans owning a 12-8 lead, Alwal — from the left side — pounded a spike straight to the floor, giving WHS a five-point edge.
But Post, one of the best all-around athletes in the area, answered with a thundering kill of her own — from the middle — making the score 13-9.
Alwal responded by winning a battle at the net, and a bit later an ace serve by Kristen Dierks (17-for-19 serving, two aces, 16 digs) lifted WHS to a 16-9 lead.
The Quasars made their run, but SSC was hampered by five missed serves in the game.
Granstra sparks SSC Game 2 win, 25-21
Starting with a big kill by Post and a well-placed smack by Granstra, the Quasars scored the first two points in Game 2.
Later, Maddie Collin (two kills, five ace blocks) won a battle at the net, and SSC held a 5-4 lead.
It was another block by Collin that extended the Quasar advantage to 10-6, as SSC showed the crowd how it has won 19 matches this season, including two tournaments.
A kill by Jenna Leopold (four kills) lifted the Quasar lead to 13-8, forcing a Trojan timeout.
A bit later, Collin and Post combined to block a spike attempt by Aggen, giving SSC an 18-13 advantage and Schutz took her second timeout.
“With SSC, you have to be ready for some tips and creative offensive plays,” the WHS coach said. “We made some adjustments, but they (the Quasars) played well and did lots of good things.”
Aggen blasted a thundering kill straight down the line, bringing the Trojans to within three, 18-15, but two big spike kills — one down the line and one down the middle — by Granstra increased SSC’s lead to 23-19.
A save by Leopold and an error by the Trojans ended the game with a four-point Quasar win.
“We came out on fire in that second game, and really played well with a lot of energy,” declared Fast. “Our libero, Bria Baumgard, had her second terrific match in a row and did just a great job with serve receiving, digging and passing the ball to our setter.”
Trojans regain momentum with Game 3 win
Worthington quickly regained the momentum, taking an early 4-0 lead in Game 3.
Later, an ace serve by Baumgard (19 digs, 17-for-18 serving, 10 points, two aces) sparked a brief SSC rally, as the Quasars came within one, 8-7.
But an ace serve by Anneli Dudley (18-for-18 serving, seven digs, 41 set assists) and kills by Russell and Aggen highlighted a 6-0 Trojan run.
SSC’s Jenny Doherty delivered a spike kill from the middle to give the Quasars a point, but Worthington countered with 6-1 run, sparked by a trio of kills and a diving save by Dixon, to take the biggest lead of the match, 20-9
A kill by Granstra and an ace serve by Betsy Voehl (three kills) helped SSC close the gap to 22-14.
After SSC scored four of the next six points, trimming the lead to 24-18, the Trojans ended the game when Aggen took a set from Dudley and delivered a kill to the floor.
Game 4 features 5 ties
A pair of kills by Leopold got the Quasars off to a 2-0 lead in Game 4, but a combined block by Harberts and Alwal tied the contest at 3-3, setting the tone for the best action of the match.
A powerful spike by Harberts later lifted WHS to a 6-4 lead, and Aggen found an open spot, increasing the Trojan edge to 8-4.
But, the Quasars — sparked by the scrambling and remarkable digs of Baumgard — battled back from a 12-6 deficit, cutting the lead to 12-10 when Collin effectively hit through a Trojan block attempt.
Later, a combined block by Harberts and Alwal gave WHS a 16-12, but a trio of ace serves by Amanda Bartosh sparked a Quasar rally and suddenly the score was tied at 18-all.
“Amanda served so well in practice this morning,” said Fast. “She went in there tonight and did a great job in a pressure situation.”
Worthington countered with a tip kill by Alwal and a cross-court spike kill by Aggen to go ahead, 21-18.
An ace serve by Baumgard and an out-of-bounds spike by the Trojans knotted the score at 21-21.
SSC setter Luanna Henkels (31 set assists, 23 digs, 12-for-14 serving, six points, one ace) put a set across the net for a kill, putting the Quasars ahead, 23-22.
But the Trojans scored three straight points, as Dierks made a great save, Russell and Dixon combined on a block and Aggen finished the match by smacking another spike down the line.
Carrie Timmerman finished with 16 digs and was 13-of-14 serving with an ace for the Trojans, who are off until Friday when they host Luverne in the first round of the Section 3AA playoffs.
SSC, the fourth-seed in Section 3A South, opens tournament play at Luverne Friday vs. the winner of Monday night’s Red Rock Central vs. Round Lake-Brewster match.