TROJAN VOLLEYBALL: Trojans take down St. JamesWORTHINGTON –Through two sets in Friday night’s Section 3AA South volleyball match at Worthington High School, the third-seeded Trojans and the sixth-seeded Saint James Saints were locked in a tight match with each side winning a set.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON –Through two sets in Friday night’s Section 3AA South volleyball match at Worthington High School, the third-seeded Trojans and the sixth-seeded Saint James Saints were locked in a tight match with each side winning a set.
However, a service error by the Saints to start the third set triggered a Becca Linder service run for the Trojans and the junior middle hitter rattled off a dozen points to give the hosts a 13-0 lead.
WHS cruised from there, taking the third and fourth sets by wide margins in a four-set victory.
Game scores were 25-18, 21-25, 25-7 and 25-11.
“We couldn’t get anything built up in the first two games for momentum,” Trojan head coach Melissa Schutz said following the opening-round playoff win. “In the third game, we talked about staying focused and playing our game and trying to be a little more aggressive.”
Linder, who finished 23 for 25 at the service line with one ace, was helped by Saints’ hitting errors early in her run before the Trojan attackers joined in with strong net play.
Brooke Henning (15 kills) recorded a trio of kills in the night’s longest scoring run, while Allie Bruns and Tara Svalland (nine kills, three blocks) each had a kill and an ace block.
“Becca (Linder) went out there and got those serves in for us,” Schutz added. “The defense was ready and our hitters were hitting. Everybody was clicking to start Game 3 and we got more things going for us.”
A service error finally ended Linder’s service spurt, but the Saints were unable to counter with much the rest of the way.
Morgan Harberts (13-for-16 serving with three aces, 15 set assists) extended the lead to 15-1, following a Svalland kill, with an ace serve.
WHS closed out the third set with ease as Linder recorded a kill and a block, while Harberts and Henning each added a kill to close out Game 3.
Linder (10 kills, four blocks) opened the Trojan scoring in the fourth game with a block, but the kills by Devon Flohrs and Lindzey Hanson helped the Saints keep the set close early.
With the fourth set tied 4-4, Harberts served a pair of aces to break the deadlock and WHS capitalized on Saints’ miscues to break the set open.
Morgan Johnson (seven kills) slammed a kill to make it 10-6, getting the serve to Anna Koepsell (11 digs).
Koepsell (11-for-12 serving with one ace) served for six straight points to make it 16-6 with Johnson propelling the run with a kill and block, while Linder added a block.
Linder and Johnson each added two more kills as the Trojans neared victory.
Jovanna Bonilla completed the Trojan victory by serving for an ace for the clinching point.
The Trojan strong net presence was apparent early in the match, but the Saints managed to disrupt the hosts just enough and the score was knotted at 15 with neither side gaining more than a three-point lead.
“Saint James has some really good outside hitters, but we had a bit of a height advantage on them,” Schutz said. “We just needed to keep reaching high and snapping above them by staying aggressive and beating them at the net. The girls worked hard to stay at a high level.”
WHS gained the separation it needed toward the end of the first game with Henning recording five kills in the set, while Johnson and Svalland had two kills each.
Linder and Svalland each had an ace block in the first game, while KC Riley and Paige Kinley each had an ace serve.
Game 2 featured the same back-and-forth action of the opening set.
Henning scored the first three Trojan points of the set with a block and two kills, but the Saints answered and eventually rallied to claim their largest lead of the night with an 18-11 bulge.
A WHS timeout was called by Schutz in an effort to stem the tide and the break in the action benefitted the hosts.
“Saint James is a good team,” Schutz said. “We knew that we had to be ready and playing to get things going. Otherwise, the game really could’ve gone their way. We really had to get things going on our side before they kept the night going their way.”
Paige Gravenhof (11-for-13 serving with two aces), who led the team with 17 set assists and 11 digs, served for five service points to help the Trojans trim the gap to 19-17, but the Saints ended the run and closed out Game 2 to tie the match at a set apiece.
Linder’s service run in the third game was what finally got the Trojans rolling and the hosts cruised from there.
WHS, winners of seven of its past eight matches, advances to play the second-seeded Windom Eagles in the next round.
“Windom will be ready,” Schutz said. “They have a really good defense. They keep the ball alive and they serve tough. We need to be ready to bring our game up a level and be ready to go against them.
“We lost to them 3-1 earlier in the year with pretty close scores. We are exciting to get another chance against them.”
Match time is 7 p.m. Tuesday.