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Pipestone Area survives; Huskies sweep

The two top-seeded volleyball teams in Section 3AA South advanced to the semifinals in different fashions Friday night.

Top-seeded Jackson County Central cruised to a sweep over eighth-seeded Luverne in the nightcap, after No. 2 Pipestone dodged a bullet by defeating No. 7 Martin County West in five games in the opener.

With the victory, JCC advances to play Windom, a five-game winner over St. James, in Slayton at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. PA will again play in Windom, this time against Murray County Central, on the same night, also at 7 p.m.

Pipestone Area 3, MCW 2

Martin County West (14-12) almost pulled off a major upset of PA, but the Arrows rallied for a 25-11, 21-25, 23-25, 25-15, 15-10, victory.

The Mavericks, paced by the play of Anita Whitehead, won games two and three, and looked like they might go on to win the match.

"We really struggled in games two and three," Arrows head coach Todd Texley said. "I think the girls were tired after the first game, and they started thinking too hard out there."

Whitehead recorded nine kills and an ace block in the two games combined to spark the Mavericks.

"We tried to put her in the middle in game one, but that didn't work," Mavericks co-head coach Travis Anderson said. "We then put her on the left, and she did a nice job against a tough team."

Down 2-1, the Arrows got off to a blistering start in game four to force a rubber contest. Nicole Buysse pounded a kill to start the game before Larissa Veldhuizen served for 10 straight points to give PA an 11-0 bulge on its way to victory.

Game five was back-and-forth before PA broke open an 8-7 lead with an ace block by Beth Tinklenberg. Steph Kocourek followed with an ace serve, and the Arrows went on to complete the comeback and escape the upset.

Ashley Weatherly led the Arrows with 41 set assists, while Buysse and Tinklenberg each charted four ace blocks. Kelsey Lorenzen also played well, defensively, with nine digs, followed by seven from Kocourek.

Veldhuizen smashed a game-high 22 kills, while Buysse (17 kills) and Erica Darveaux (nine kills) also performed well at the net for the Arrows.

Kocourek (17-for-17, three aces) and Veldhuizen (18-for-20, two aces) were the top servers for PA, which was playing its first match in 11 days.

The Arrows (22-3-1) will now prepare for a battle with MCC, a team they defeated 3-1 on October 10 in Pipestone.

"We will have to block a lot better and play better defense against MCC," Texley said. "It should be a great match, though."

JCC 3, Luverne 0

Jackson County Central had no problems in a 25-18, 25-15, 25-25-13, sweep over the Cardinals.

"We were a little slow at first, but we started executing as the match went on," Huskies head coach Ferris Grund said. "It was a nice way to start the tournament, and everyone got to play tonight."

Luverne (7-19-2) played right with the Huskies in game one, before JCC's firepower wore down the Cardinals in games two and three.

"We played really well in the first game," Cardinals head coach Lori Oechsle said. "They just outplayed us the rest of the way, though."

JCC, also playing its first match in 11 days, staked an early 7-2 lead to start the match, with Traci Fransen picking up two kills in the stretch.

Meghan Cronberg kept the Cardinals in the game with four kills, including one that cut the Huskies' lead to three (15-12).

Kylla Bargfrede, however, served for four straight points after hammering a kill to put the game away.

The high-leaping Bargfrede continued her solid play in the next two games, tallying four kills in each to pace the Huskies. Her last kill, which was drilled, came after libero Danielle Honnette made a diving, one-handed dig, and also polished off the sweep.

The Huskies (22-4) were led by Honnette's 28 digs, while Tessa Prochaska (14) and Brenna Munoz (eight) led the team in set assists.

Chelsea Park charted 22 set assists for the Cardinals, and Cronberg finished with a team-best seven kills and four blocks.