TROJAN VOLLEYBALL: Eagles defeat Trojan girls’ VBWINDOM — Holding off late rallies to win both Games 1 and 2 before prevailing in an exciting fourth contest Tuesday night, the Windom Eagles claimed a thrilling 3-1 victory over the Worthington Trojans in a key Southwest Conference high school volleyball match.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WINDOM — Holding off late rallies to win both Games 1 and 2 before prevailing in an exciting fourth contest Tuesday night, the Windom Eagles claimed a thrilling 3-1 victory over the Worthington Trojans in a key Southwest Conference high school volleyball match.
Game scores were 25-19, 25-20, 17-25 and 27-25 in Windom’s favor, as the Eagles improved to 15-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference with the win.
Worthington, which is now 13-9 overall and 2-4 in league action, earned an impressive victory in Game 3 behind a stellar blocking performance at the net. The Trojans then nearly forced a fifth and decisive set, but fell just short in a thrilling Game 4 that could have went either way on numerous occasions.
“We started out slow tonight, but finished very strong,” summed up Worthington head coach Melissa Schutz. “Our blocking really turned around in the third game and was a major difference in getting the momentum in our favor. We played with a lot of determination and hustle to work our way back and make this a competitive match.”
Schutz mentioned that the hustle in the back row by Anna Koepsell (20 digs) and Paige Kinley (15 digs) was a contributing factor in Worthington’s improved play as the match progressed, and Windom head coach Ron Wendorff also took notice of the Trojans’ inspired work on the court.
“This was a great match between two good teams that really got after it,” Wendorff said. “It was certainly a hard-fought, scrappy match, and we’re happy to come out on top. Give Worthington a lot of credit for playing as hard as they did and as well as they did, particularly in the third and fourth games.”
Brooke Henning led the Trojans with a perfect 20-for-20 serving line (two aces) to go along with 10 kills and four blocks. Tara Svalland also knocked down 10 kills, while Morgan Johnson and Allie Bruns finished with six kills apiece for Worthington.
Paige Gravenhof (18-for-18 serving, four aces) and Morgan Harberts distributed 16 and 12 set assists, respectively, to facilitate the Trojans’ offensive attack.
Kelsey Hanefeld (14 kills, 14 digs and three blocks), Hali Tasler (12 kills, 20 digs and three blocks), Holly Larson (nine kills, four blocks) and Shelby Mattson (nine kills, 15 digs and 21 set assists) paced Windom’s multi-dimensional approach at the net.
Jasmine Carlson collected 27 digs, Sami Petersen dished out 13 assists, and Hanefeld went 21-for-23 serving with a pair of aces for the Eagles. Tasler was 14-for-15 serving to round out Windom’s statistical highlights.
Windom wins first two games
The Eagles gradually built a fairly comfortable cushion in the first game, as Larson, Hanefeld, Tasler and Mattson each made plays at the net to help Windom take a 13-8 lead and force a Worthington timeout.
Hanefeld and Mattson both produced an ace block and a left-side kill a bit later, while an ace block by Tasler extended Windom’s lead to 22-12.
Worthington rallied to pull within five (24-19) behind an ace serve from Gravenhof, a kill from Svalland and a tandem block from Henning and Becca Linder, but a kill by Tasler secured a 25-19 opening win for Windom.
The Trojans stayed with the Eagles to begin the second set, with Betsy Thompson dropping in a pair of ace serves to spark Worthington. Back-to-back kills from Bruns and Johnson gave the Trojans an 8-7 edge.
However, Windom ripped off 10 straight points and suddenly led 17-8. Hanefeld was at the service line in that span, while Leah Hacker contributed a kill and an ace block in addition to a kill apiece from Tasler and Mattson that powered the Eagles out in front.
Worthington, though, again came back late and was within four (24-20) by game‘s end. Henning and Tracy Prins teamed up for a big block at the net, and Svalland pounded a pair of kills to fuel the Trojans’ oncoming surge.
An ace block by Hanefeld put the brakes on Worthington’s comeback bid, sealing a 25-20 victory and putting Windom in command up 2-0.
“This was one of Kelsey’s best matches of the year,” Wendorff said. “Our left-side blocking was pretty good tonight, as we knew that Worthington has a powerful right-side attack. We were able to take some things away from the Trojans early on.”
Trojans win third set, fall just short
It was the blocking ability of the Trojans that dominated the third game, as Worthington took a quick 5-2 lead after tips from Bruns and Johnson —- who also teamed up for a tandem block early in the set.
Later, with Windom leading 8-7, Worthington put together a 9-0 run to forge a 16-8 advantage. Gravenhof’s eight-point service run in that stretch included a trio of aces, as well as kills from Svalland and Linder.
The Trojans, who were blocking several of Windom’s attacks and getting their offense set up in the first half of the game, then started to score directly off of stuffs and deflections at the net during the second half.
Linder, Henning, Svalland, Bruns and KC Riley each had big ace blocks, allowing Worthington to polish off a 25-17 win and extend the match to a fourth game.
“Our blocking was key, but we were also much more aggressive with our hitting,” Schutz said. “Our serve receiving and passing also seemed to get better, as we ran an effective offense and scored some big points.”
The fourth game was a back-and-forth affair all the way before Windom pulled ahead slightly toward the end. Hanefeld hammered three kills to help give the Eagles a 24-20 lead and match point after the score had been tied at 18.
But Worthington countered with five consecutive points to take a 25-24 lead. With Henning serving, the Trojans used tips from Bruns and Johnson to earn a game point of their own.
Hacker answered with a tip to tie it, and then Windom was able to record the final two points for a 27-25 win —- closing out a 3-1 victory.
Both teams play non-conference matches Thursday. Worthington hosts Fairmont for Parents’ Night, while Windom travels to play Tracy-Milroy-Balaton.