TROJAN VOLLEYBALL: Huskies defeat TrojansWORTHINGTON — Utilizing the strong left-side attacks of outside hitters Kaylee Burmeister and Sydnee Donnelli Tuesday evening, the well-balanced Jackson County Central Huskies overcame a sluggish start and claimed a 3-1 match victory over Worthington in Southwest Conference high school volleyball action.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Utilizing the strong left-side attacks of outside hitters Kaylee Burmeister and Sydnee Donnelli Tuesday evening, the well-balanced Jackson County Central Huskies overcame a sluggish start and claimed a 3-1 match victory over Worthington in Southwest Conference high school volleyball action.
Burmeister, a 5-7 sophomore, finished the match with 16 kills and 18 digs, while Donnelli — a high-leaping 5-7 senior — drilled 11 timely kills at the Trojans, who had stunned the Huskies in Game 1, earning a 10-point lead and winning by a four-point margin, 25-21.
JCC, however, took command early in Game 2 and vaulted to an impressive 12-1 lead, capped by one of Lydia Brandt’s four ace blocks during the match.
The Huskies held off the Trojans and won Games 2, 3 and 4 by respective scores of 25-11, 25-14 and 25-14.
The victory by JCC improves the Huskies to 13-4 for the season and to 3-1 in the conference.
Worthington, meanwhile, drops to 13-7 overall and is 2-3 in league matches.
“We got out of the gate strong with some solid serving and aggressive blocking, which took JCC out of system and allowed us to earn some big leads,” praised WHS head coach Melissa Schutz about the Trojans’ fast start. “But, we weren’t able to get many blocks as the match progressed and we ended up missing nine serves — which is probably a season high for us.”
Henning, Bruns spark Trojans early in Game 1
After a pair of JCC errors gave Worthington two quick points in the opener, the net play of junior Brooke Henning and freshman Allie Bruns — a pair of 5-10 outside hitters — sparked the Trojans to an early 7-3 advantage.
A bit later, Worthington’s edge was 9-4 and JCC head coach Teresa Van Epps called the evening’s first timeout.
“We were sluggish and were not moving our feet,” Van Epps said about JCC’s slow start. “Give the Trojans credit — they were ready to play, out-hustling us and playing us tough at the net, blocking lots of our hits.”
But things did not improve for the Huskies following her first timeout, as the Trojans continued to play well as a team and scored four more unanswered points and opened up a surprising 13-4 lead — which forced Van Epps to quickly take her second timeout.
“We needed to decide if we were going to respond to what was happening,” the veteran JCC mentor explained about her second timeout. “Once we got our feet moving, things improved for us.”
Out of the second break, however, Worthington’s Becca Linder, a 5-10 junior middle hitter, scored an ace block and the Trojans had a 10-point lead, 14-4.
JCC responded by scoring six of the next eight points, but a right-side kill by Linder (12-of-13 serving with an ace) gave WHS a 17-10 advantage.
An ace serve by Burmeister and a wrap-around left-side kill by 5-10 senior middle hitter Jasmine Erickson (nine kills, 10 digs, two ace blocks, one ace serve) brought the Huskies to within three, 18-15.
A JCC hitting error put the brakes on the Huskies’ 11-4 run and after Morgan Johnson (five kills) and Bruns (three blocks) teamed up on an ace block, the Trojans were back in command, leading 20-15.
“We responded well to JCC’s run in Game 1 and finished with a run of our own,” praised Schutz about the Trojans’ game-ending effort in the opener. “Our defense was reacting and our passing was good, which made it possible to get our offensive attacks going.”
An ace serve by Henning (team-high eight kills, 10-of-12 serving with two aces) lifted WHS up 22-15 and after JCC rallied with three straight points, a left-side kill by 5-6 senior outside hitter K.C. Riley (four kills, 12 digs, nine-of-nine serving) — off a set from Johnson — increased the WHS lead to five, 23-18.
After a JCC spike attempt hit the net, the Trojans were at game-point, leading by six.
The Huskies, however, again scored three straight points, capped by Burmeister’s tip kill.
But, following a timeout by Schutz, Johnson delivered a set kill down the right sideline for the game-winner, giving the Trojans a 1-0 edge in the match.
JCC builds and maintains leads in next three sets
The Trojans were not able to sustain the momentum of their Game 1 win, as JCC used a trio of left-side kills by Donnelli, an ace serve by Burmeister and Brandt’s ace block to stake itself to a commanding 12-1 lead.
An ace block and an ace serve by Henning helped WHS slice the gap to 13-5, but back-to-back left-side kills by Donnelli and Erickson moved the score to 16-5.
Later, a middle tip from Erickson and another thundering left-side kill by Burmeister put the Huskies up by 15 points, 22-7.
Tara Svalland (four kills) and Henning both delivered spikes for points late in the game for the Trojans, but JCC closed out the set with a 14-point win.
Burmeister opened Game 3 with a left-side kill and Brandt (six kills, one ace serve) followed with an ace block, setting the tone early for the Huskies.
An ace serve by JCC sophomore libero Kathryn Nasby (match-high 25 digs, match-high three ace serves) lifted the Huskies to a 5-1 lead and several more kills by Donnelli kept the visitors in control, leading 15-8.
A couple of kills by Svalland and a great save by senior libero Anna Koepsell (team-high 17 digs, 13-of-14 serving) highlighted Worthington’s play during that span.
An ace block by freshman Sydney Nyborg (two ace blocks) and another ace serve by Nasby increased JCC’s lead to 17-8.
Henning, Johnson and Bruns responded with kills for the Trojans, who trimmed the lead to 18-12 with a 4-1 rally.
But, a well-placed kill by setter Michelle Van Epps (41 set assists, four kills, two ace serves) swung the momentum back JCC’s way and the Huskies closed out Game 3 on a 7-2 run, capped by the tandem ace block of Brandt and Nyborg.
JCC stayed in control in Game 4, claiming leads of 6-0, 10-3 and 14-5.
A dandy dig by Burmeister and Van Epps’ set to Donnelli for a powerful kill from the left side capped that early surge by the Huskies, while WHS countered with a left-side kill by Henning, a tandem block from Johnson and Riley, along with a well-placed down-the-line left-side kill by Riley.
JCC took leads of 18-8, 20-10 and 23-13 before an ace serve by sophomore Sarah Brandt put the Huskies at game and match point.
After a missed serve gave the Trojans a point, JCC clinched the match on a bump-set-spike from senior defensive specialist Brook Klontz to Van Epps to Brandt.
Donnelli (15-of-15), Nasby (13-of-13) and sophomore setter Rachel Johnson (11-of-11) were all perfect at the serving line for the Huskies, who begin play at the 14-team Lakeville North Tournament Friday.
Morgan Harberts and Paige Gravenhof put up 10 and eight set assists, respectively, for the Trojans who host Southwest Christian Thursday night.