TROJANS VOLLEYBALL: Trojans topple Cardinals in fourWORTHINGTON — While the mid-autumn weather was cool outside Thursday evening, the storied Worthington Senior High School Gymnasium was warm and festive, as two traditional sectional rivals squared off in a high school volleyball match.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — While the mid-autumn weather was cool outside Thursday evening, the storied Worthington Senior High School Gymnasium was warm and festive, as two traditional sectional rivals squared off in a high school volleyball match.
Prior to the first serve, the WHS pep band provided an upbeat pre-match warmup and then members of the WHS choir performed an excellent rendition of our National Anthem.
With most of the WHS student cheering section dressed in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Week, the spirited Worthington Trojans treated their fans to a 3-1 match victory over the visiting Fairmont Cardinals, getting contributions from lots of players.
“Our blocking was good again and we covered our blocks well, keeping balls in play with some great saves and digs,” summed up WHS head coach Melissa Schutz about her team’s 14th match victory of the season. “We had lots of girls play well and came up with a nice win before next week’s section seeding takes place.”
Game scores Thursday were 25-18, 18-25, 25-11 and 25-21.
The Trojans, who scored 11 points on ace blocks during the match, were in control throughout most of Game 1 and were dominant in Game 3.
Fairmont, however, was the better team in Game 2 and the Cardinals came back with several rallies to make Game 4 close.
“This was a good battle between two teams who have often played each other in the section tournament, just a week or so after facing off in the regular season,” exclaimed sixth-year Fairmont head coach Brad Haugen, who spent a couple of seasons as Windom’s head coach a decade ago.
“Worthington did a great job with its blocks and the Trojan hitters come at you from all angles. Melissa (Schutz) does a nice job with her team and always has them ready to play.”
The Trojans certainly were raring to go in the opener, vaulting to leads of 8-5 and 10-6 as an ace serve by senior setter Morgan Harberts gave WHS its early three-point edge and a stuff (ace block) at the net by freshman middle hitter Allie Bruns (five blocks) stretched the lead to four.
Later, a tip kill by senior outside hitter KC Riley (team-high 17 digs, six kills) and a middle spike kill by senior right-side hitter Tara Svalland (11 kills, two blocks) gave WHS a 16-11 advantage.
After Fairmont sliced the lead to 17-14, WHS sophomore middle hitter Becca Linder (18 service points on a perfect 26-of-26 performance) gave Brooke Henning a long set, which Henning hammered to the floor for a kill.
Linder followed that with an ace serve and the Trojans were back up five, 19-14.
Linder rattled off four more service points as the WHS lead increased to nine, 23-14.
A thundering kill by Fairmont junior right-side hitter Kayla Lardy (team-high 13 kills) highlighted a brief Cardinal rally.
But a great save by Harberts (15 set assists, 18-of-20 serving, three aces) helped the Trojans regain control and earn a seven-point victory in Game 1.
Cardinals turn the table in Game 2, win 25-18
Fairmont, which is 8-9 overall, sports a fine 6-3 record in the South Central Conference.
Breaking from an 11-11 tie in Game 2, the Cardinals showed how they have won six league matches this fall by doubling up the Trojans (14-7) the rest of the set.
For the match, senior outside hitter Paige Bearson pounded 12 kills and came up with a match-high 25 digs to help the Cardinals.
Junior middle hitter Kersten Schantz had eight timely kills for FHS, while sophomore setter Emily Kim was credited with 23 set assits in the match.
A strong left-side kill by Bearson, a kill by junior outside hitter Kristen Campe and an ace serve by Kim capped a 5-1 Cardinal run which gave the visitors a 17-12 lead.
The Trojans never came closer than three points the rest of the set, as Fairmont stayed in control — highlighted by a middle kill from Schantz, an ace serve from senior Tori Edgington and game-clinching middle block by Schantz.
Henning shines in strong Game 3 Trojan win
Henning, a 5-11 junior outside hitter, finished the night with a match-high 17 kills, along with 11 digs, a pair of blocks and was a perfect 14-of-14 serving, including a pair of aces.
Senior libero Anna Koepsell also did not miss a serve (12-of-12, with a trio of aces) and hustled for seven digs for the Trojans.
“Our serving was good,” praised Schutz. “We had nine aces and only three misses —that’s a pretty good night.”
Junior Paige Gravenhof put up a team-leading 17 set assists for WHS, while junior defensive specialist Paige Kinley contributed nine digs to the WHS effort.
Senior right-side hitter Morgan Johnson — who only stands 5-6, but displays good leaping ability with “hang time “ and a strong swing —also came up big for the Trojans with seven kills and a pair of blocks.
A pair of service points by Riley, along with a down-the-line right-side kill by Svalland, a tandem block by Bruns and Svalland and a tip kill by Bruns sparked Worthington to an early 6-1 lead in Game 3.
With Henning taking sets from Harberts, the Trojans stayed ahead and a thundering left-handed right-side kill by the right-handed Johnson brought the Trojan fans to their feet midway through the set.
A sensational dig by Riley allowed Svalland to score on a kill which increased Worthington’s lead to 14-9.
“KC really had a nice all-around match,” praised Schutz. “She sees the court so well and had several smart attacks for us, placing some timely tip kills.”
A perfect set from Gravenhof to Svalland for a left-side kill was a highlight of the Trojans’ 14-point win in Game 3, which included several left-side kills and an ace serve by Henning during the final 10-2 WHS run.
Scrappy play continues for Trojans in Game 4
Holding a 2-1 lead, Worthington held the scoreboard advantage most of Game 4.
Johnson and Bruns teamed up on a middle block to give the Trojans an early 5-3 edge and a great dig by Harberts led to a left-side kill by Riley and an 8-5 WHS lead.
With Koepsell serving, Kinley and Riley both made stellar saves on the same play and, later, a tip kill by Riley made the score 10-6.
The Cardinals trimmed the gap to 12-10, but the Trojans surged again as another tandem block by Bruns and Johnson, along with an ace serve by Harberts put the hosts up five, 16-11.
Another great save by Koepsell helped the Trojans score the next point and a dandy set from Harberts to Henning (for a left-side kill) increased the WHS advantage to 18-12.
Harberts, Kinley and Johnson all made saves on a long rally, which the Trojans won and maintained a six-point edge before Riley hammered a free ball kill to the floor for a 20-13 lead.
Several Trojan errors allowed Fairmont to score the next three points, but a strong right-side kill by Johnson gave WHS a 21-16 lead.
An ace serve by Edgington sliced the gap to 22-19 and forced Schutz to call a timeout.
Coming off the break, Linder hammered a kill and Koepsell drove a dig over the net for a kill, helping the Trojans clinch the match and improve to 14-9 for the season.
Worthington travels to Marshall today to begin play in the two-day 22-team Subway Tournament.
The Trojans tangle with both Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop today, beginning at 4 p.m.