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A-R rallies, tops Minnesota West

WORTHINGTON -- Riding the strong net play of Anna Block and Karla Curless Wednesday night, the Anoka-Ramsey Golden Rams volleyball team edged Minnesota West in five games, 30-27, 24-30, 20-30, 30-21, 15-12.

Block (29) and Curless (21) combined for 50 kills to fuel the Golden Rams, and A-R head coach Drew Rongere said they were the main reasons why his club won the match.

"Those two have the best kills-per-game averages in the conference," he said following the match. "We knew this was going to be a close contest, and we stepped up our play in Games 4 and 5."

Trailing 2-1, the Golden Rams (3-4 MCCC Southern Division, 6-15 overall) jumped out to a commanding 12-3 lead in Game 4.

However, MW (2-5, 5-12) chipped away at that lead, as Tarryn Jansen came up with a big ace block and a pair of kills to help the Lady Jays surge to within three (17-14).

But a pair of kills each from Block and Curless helped extend the Golden Rams' lead to 23-18, and Audra Stevenson later helped seal the 30-21 victory with a kill and an ace block.

The Golden Rams again staked an early lead (6-1) to start Game 5, but a Jansen kill, a Kayla Dekker ace block and a Karie Shaner ace serve got the Lady Jays back in it.

Back-to-back ace blocks by Stephanie O'Rourck and Curless put A-R up 11-7 before Stevenson's kill landed on the back line to secure the 15-12 victory.

"They eliminated a lot of the mistakes they were making early in the match," Lady Jays head coach Janet Haren said of the Golden Rams. "It wasn't anything that we were doing wrong, it's just that they improved their play late in the match."

A-R slowly pulled away and held off a late charge by the Lady Jays to win Game 1, 30-27. MW responded by taking Games 2 and 3 by scores of 30-24 and 30-20, respectively.

Leading 15-14 in Game 2, back-to-back kills by Jansen and Rosie Lewis -- followed by an ace block from Dekker -- keyed the Lady Jays to a 9-3 run, as they went on to tie the match.

MW then took the match lead by storming out to a 19-12 bulge in Game 3. Lindsey Henkels (21-for-22 serving) served two of her four aces, and the Lady Jays received ace blocks from Jansen, Brittney Williams, Lewis and Cali Mischke to spark the scoring burst.

A pair of punishing kills from Dekker then helped the Lady Jays polish off the game, and they appeared to have the momentum needed to finish off the match.

But the Golden Rams went to their go-to hitters to rally and take the final two games of the match.

Jansen led the Lady Jays with 10 blocks, nine kills (31-for-31 hitting) and a 20-for-20 serving effort.

Dekker -- who had a team-high 33 digs -- and Lewis each chalked up 12 kills, while Williams registered 29 set assists and was 13-for-14 serving with an ace for the Lady Jays.

Marie Pavelko (19-for-20 serving) and Shaner (25-for-25 serving, one ace) also played well defensively with 27 and 23 digs, respectively, for the Lady Jays.

The Lady Jays play Riverland at Austin Saturday before they visit Iowa Lakes Monday. They host Fergus Falls next Wednesday on "Meet the Lady Jays" night.