TROJAN VOLLEYBALL: Eagles sweep TrojansWINDOM — Hali Tasler’s service effort Tuesday night helped Windom rally to win the first set in an eventual sweep by the No. 2-seed Eagles over the third-seeded Worthington Trojans in a Section 3AA South semifinal volleyball match.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WINDOM — Hali Tasler’s service effort Tuesday night helped Windom rally to win the first set in an eventual sweep by the No. 2-seed Eagles over the third-seeded Worthington Trojans in a Section 3AA South semifinal volleyball match.
Game scores were 25-22, 25-8 and 25-17.
With the Eagles trailing 22-19 late in Game 1, Tasler unleashed a kill to give herself the serve with a 22-20 deficit and the senior outside hitter quickly knotted the score with a pair of ace serves.
Following a Trojan hitting error and a tip kill by Holly Larson to get the Eagles to game point, Tasler did it again – this time keeping an ace serve just inside the paint along the left side for the game winner.
“The turning point in the match came when we were down in the first set and the kids just refused to lose that one,” Windom head coach Ron Wendorff said following the match. “We stepped it up a little bit when we needed to and we stopped making a few of the errors that we had earlier in the match.”
“Hali Tasler got back there on the service line and really kept them out of system, which gave us a great chance to score,” Wendorff siad. “She threaded the needle on that ace for the last point of the set. Big time plays by a senior that’s been doing well for us all year long.”
Tasler finished the match with five ace serves on a 21-for-21 effort at the service line, while also adding eight kills and 12 digs.
Brooke Henning (six kills) gave WHS an early lead in the first set by using a tip kill to end a long rally, but a Tasler service run to start Windom’s scoring put the hosts in front 5-1 early.
Kelsey Hanefeld (11 kills), Rachel Sorenson (seven kills) and Larson each had a kill for Windom in the stretch, while Tasler recorded a point with her first ace of the night
“That’s been our best scoring rotation of the year,” Wendorff said of the Eagle offense when Tasler is serving. “She’s our leading scorer for points off the serve. She does a great job of putting the ball where we want it and keeping them out of system. Then we have a pretty good hitting lineup at the net and they came through for us.”
A kill from Tara Svalland (six kills), along with some Windom miscues, helped the Trojans keep the first set close early at 6-5.
The Eagles received kills from Larson (six blocks) and Hanefeld to keep some separation, but a nice block from Henning (one block) kept WHS within striking distance at 8-7.
The Trojans countered over the next few points to grab a 12-11 lead as Morgan Johnson (three kills) recorded a pair of kills and KC Riley added a kill.
The team’s swapped points with tie scores of 12-12, 13-13, 15-15 and 16-16 before WHS rallied for an 18-16 lead, forcing Windom into its only timeout of the match.
“We had the kids focused in on starting tough and playing for each point and we did that the first game,” Trojan head coach Melissa Schutz said. “It was nice to see them come out ready and swinging.”
A block by Allie Bruns and a tip kill by Henning gave the Trojans their late lead, which was eventually extended to 20-17 on an ace tip by Morgan Harberts, 21-18 on a Windom hitting error and 22-19 on a kill from Becca Linder (one block), before Tasler and the Eagles closed out the first match with the final six points.
In Game 2, the Trojans again grabbed the early lead when Henning slammed a kill to finish off a long rally for the set’s opening point, but the Eagles quickly countered and put WHS into a deep hole.
Following kills by a Tasler and Hanefeld, service run by Miki Bolin stretched Windom’s lead to 9-3.
Bolin, who finished 12 of 13 serving in the match, recorded an ace in that Eagle run, while Shelby Mattson, Leah Hacker and Hanefeld each charted a kill. Mattson (four blocks), who had 18 set assists and 13 digs, also recorded an ace block during that Windom run.
Kills by Henning and Bruns were early highlights of the second set for the Trojans, but a service run by Jasmine Carlson helped the Eagles run away with the set.
Carlson, who was perfect on her serve receive and was never aced upon, led Windom with 19 digs and her service run gave her team a 17-5 lead.
Tasler finished the second game at the service line and scored the game point the same way she did in the first game – with another ace.
Serve receive was something WHS struggled with during the match and Schutz said that was a key factor in the contest.
“In the second and third game, we just didn’t have the serve receive,” Schutz said. “We couldn’t run our offense and didn’t get many hits.
“That was a turning point. When you don’t have the serve receive, you can’t run the offense. Defensively, we needed a couple of more blocks to go our way to change the momentum and we didn’t get them.”
WHS battled to keep the score close in Game 3, holding leads of 4-3 and 5-4 early with Linder scoring on a service ace and Svalland adding a pair of kills, but Windom countered with a pair of Tasler kills to go ahead 9-7.
The Eagles never looked back and completed the sweep as the hosts received strong net play with Tasler, Hanefeld, Mattson and Hacker each recording a pair of kills the rest of the way. Larson added a kill and a block, while Sorenson recorded the match-clinching point.
“Windom’s a good team,” Schutz said. “They kept the hits on us and get their offense going. And they have a tough defense. They played well.”
Trojan highlights in the final game included two more kills by Svalland, while Henning and Riley each added a kill and Linder scored on a block.
Linder led the Trojans in the match with one ace serve on a 13-for-13 effort, while Anna Koepsell (14 digs) was 7-for-7 serving and Harberts (six set assists) finished 7-for-8 serving.
Paige Gravenhof had eight set assists, while Riley recorded 14 digs for a WHS team that finishes the season with a 20-11 record.
“It was good season,” Schutz said. “To get to 20 wins in a season is really good and I’m proud of the girls for that. Overall, just a great bunch of kids and we’re proud of our season.”
While the Trojans’ season ends, the Eagles move on to tangle with the Jackson County Central Huskies in the Section 3AA South final.
Windom (22-7), which received 10 set assists from Sami Petersen in the match, lost to the Huskies in a Southwest Conference meeting between the clubs in Jackson on Sept. 27 in four sets (18-25, 25-12, 25-17 and 25-11).
“Jackson is an outstanding team,” Wendorff said. “They bring great hitters from every spot and they have a nice setter. They’re just a really nice ball club that’s ranked in the state.
“We’re happy to have the opportunity go out there and play them and our kids will be battlers that night. We’re going to battle them.”
The Section 3AA South title game is scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. Thursday in Worthington.