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Minnesota West sweeps to home victory over Rochester

WORTHINGTON -- Sparked by the sophomore trio of Brittney Williams, Kayla Dekker and Tarryn Jansen in its home opener Wednesday night, the Minnesota West Lady Jays volleyball team swept Rochester, 30-21, 31-29, 30-25.

Minnesota West pulled away to win Games 1 and 3, sandwiching an exciting come-from-behind effort in Game 2.

The victory improves the Lady Jays to 2-2 on the season, as they won their Minnesota Community College Conference Southern Division opener with a solid team effort, led by veterans Williams, Dekker and Jansen.

"Those three are great leaders for our team, both on and off the court," Lady Jays head coach Janet Haren said after the match. "They know how to play the game and are great role models for our freshmen."

Williams ran the offense well, passing out 32 set assists to her teammates, who were sharp at the net throughout the match.

Game 1 saw the two teams trade points until the score was tied at 7-all. The Lady Jays then went on a 10-3 run to build a 17-10 cushion.

Dekker (16 digs, 12 kills) smashed four kills in that stretch, and later slammed a kill to extend the lead to 26-19. She would end the game with an ace block, giving the Lady Jays an early advantage.

Game 2 was tight early on as freshman Marie Pavelko, from Worthington, pounded three kills to help Minnesota West keep pace with the Yellowjackets.

After the Lady Jays built a 19-13 lead with the help of two of Williams' seven ace serves, Rochester rallied to score seven straight points for a 20-19 lead.

Two more kills by Pavelko -- who also had 12 digs -- helped Minnesota West regain the lead at 23-20, but Rochester went on a 9-3 run to come within a point from victory, leading 29-26.

However, a perfectly-placed kill by Dekker and a mistake on a set attempt by Rochester sparked Minnesota West's comeback, as Williams (16 digs) caught the Yellowjackets off guard with a dump kill before serving an ace to give the Lady Jays a 30-29 edge.

The Yellowjackets' Hannah Hoekstra then hit a kill attempt into the net, and the Lady Jays had a 2-0 lead.

"That rally showed a lot about our mental game," Haren said. "We came up with some dynamite defensive plays and we were able to finish at the net. It was good to see."

Minnesota West carried the momentum into Game 3, staking a quick 4-0 lead with the help of an ace block by Cali Mischke, a freshman out of Southwest Star Concept.

Keyed by the net play of Lisa Bicknese, Rochester battled back to claim a 14-11 advantage before the Lady Jays responded by outscoring the Yellowjackets 14-8 to go up 25-22.

Minnesota West then received back-to-back bombs from Dekker and Mischke (six kills), and Jansen later polished off the game by spiking her sixth kill of the match, giving the Lady Jays the sweep.

"This was a great team effort tonight," Haren said. "We received key contributions from lots of girls, and it's a good confidence-builder as we head into the weekend."

Minnesota West will play in Coon Rapids Friday and Saturday. The Lady Jays play Anoka-Ramsey in a conference match Friday before playing in the Anoka-Ramsey tournament Saturday.