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Cardinals narrowly defeat Trojans

LUVERNE -- With each team winning three matches, the Luverne and Worthington girls' tennis contest came down to the No. 2 singles.

Luverne's Amy Herman defeated Worthington's Kaylee Williamson in a tight match, 6-3, 6-2, to give Luverne four points and its first victory of the season.

"We haven't won a match yet, so it feels pretty good that I could decide it for us," Herman said following the match. "I had some problems at the beginning. I started off slow, but I get better as it goes on, I think."

For the Trojans, they could not get over the hump in a key conference match-up.

"It was a tough 4-3 loss, but we're right there, and I'd rather be right there than get blown out 7-0," Worthington head coach Mike Marquardt said. "I'll take what happened tonight, we'll work on it and get better from there."

Herman and fellow senior Katelyn Deragisch were both victorious to propel the Cardinals to the victory.

"I thought the two seniors played really well," Luverne head coach Greg Antoine said. "They've been stuck at one and two singles where you get the two toughest players thrown at them. Amy Herman has played doubles for five-and-a-half years; she's only played singles for three or four matches, and she really played well tonight."

Deragisch defeated Worthington's Raquel Leinen 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 singles.

"I think I played OK, but I know that I could have played better," Leinen said. "I had a lot of good shots, but I know that I have some things to improve on."

For Leinen and the Trojans, serving was one area that has improved.

"My serves are getting better, but I need to be more consistent," Leinen said. "Overall, I think I played well."

Marquardt agreed with Leinen.

"The serving has really increased; not so much the power, but just really good placement," Marquardt said. "We're also reading the serve from the other side; our returns are getting a lot better."

The Trojans defeated the Cardinals at both the No. 3 and No. 4 singles, creating an even split at two wins apiece in the singles competition.

Worthington's Jenny Mammen defeated Autumn Wenzel 6-0, 6-1 at No. 3, while Sameera Nalla of Worthington defeated Amanda Niessink 6-1, 6-0 at No. 4.

"Each girl that won today has played well at times, we just have never played well on the same night," Antoine said. "I don't know if they were feeding off of each other, so they were all playing well. But when you get them all playing well on one night, then you finally get the win."

The duo of Erin Schutte and Jessica Vuong proved too much for Luverne's Liz Solma and Hilary Deragisch. Schutte and Vuong won the first set, 6-3, and the second in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (8-6).

At No. 2 doubles, Tabby Sanderson and Krista Van Dyk of Luverne defeated Kendall Spartz and Angela Bui, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

At the No. 3 doubles, Luverne's combination of Maleeka Sandager and Hannah Baartman defeated Leigh Van Hove and Amy Schutte, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

"It looked like the doubles were really hitting the empty spots," Antoine said. "We were just hitting the shots where a good tennis player should hit them. We were doing the fundamentals well."

Going into the match, Marquardt said he knew it was going to be down to the wire.

"We knew it was going to be close," Marquardt said. "Again, you're hoping for the 4-3 in your favor. They were good matches. The ones I thought we were going to do well at, we didn't, and the ones that I thought we were going to have problems with, we did well."

Luverne is used to playing close matches, and for Antoine, it was a relief to finally earn a victory.

"We've had a lot of close matches. The girls have put in a lot work, and I know the two seniors are pretty excited to win their first match," Antoine said. "Hopefully, it's a good time to start winning. We're a week and a half away from section tournament, and hopefully, that will give us a little (confidence)."

Luverne will now enter a busy time in its schedule. The Cardinals will face Pipestone Area today before facing Brandon Valley on Friday. Monday, the Cardinals will travel to Martin County West and will play again Tuesday against River Valley.

'We're just going to keep this lineup, and hopefully they can take the confidence of tonight and carry it through," Antoine said. "I hope to get a couple more wins in the next four or five days."

Worthington (1-2 conference, 4-10 overall) will be at home today against Redwood Valley.

"Redwood is going to be about the same caliber," Marquardt said. "I want to say with our whole conference, except for MACCRAY, it's going to depend on the day. Tomorrow, I'm hoping it's our day. There's a chance of 35 mile per hour wind, and to be honest, that's our regular day, so maybe that will help us out. I think it's going to be another close match. We'll see what happens tomorrow."