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Eagles sweep past Trojans

WORTHINGTON -- After a nine-day layoff, the Windom Eagles swept the Worthington Trojans in a Southwest Conference volleyball contest Thursday.

"It was a battle. Give Worthington a lot of credit," Windom head coach Ron Wendorff said. "They played hard and scrapped. I thought our kids were a little rusty from a nine-day layoff. We were a little indecisive at times and maybe not as quick to the ball early in the match."

After a close 25-21 victory in Game 1, the Eagles recovered to win the second game, 25-17, and completed the sweep with a 25-18 victory in Game 3.

"As the match went on, I thought our kids continued to work at it and get better," Wendorff said. "I thought by the third game, we started to hit our stride a little bit."

The Eagles (2-1 conference, 15-1 overall) entered the match as the No. 1 team in Class A, but Worthington coach Jen Clark said her team was not intimidated.

"I don't know that they were (intimidated)," Clark said. "Sometimes, I think there is some hesitation. I saw that in Jackson that they definitely think twice. I think they did alright here. We played with them well the first couple of games."

The Eagles had not had a match since they swept Albert Lea on Sept. 18.

"When you have a nine-day layoff in this part of the season, you get kind of tired of looking at each other," Wendorff said. "You try to keep the intensity up, but it's difficult. You want to look at someone different across the net at this point in the season. We don't like to make excuses for not playing well, but I think the effort was there, our timing just wasn't quite where it needed to be."

Even though the Trojans (1-3, 5-4) scored the first point in Game 1, Windom answered with a 10-3 run behind the strong play of Casey Christensen (14 kills, six blocks).

"I thought early in the match we were able to take advantage of Casey Christensen in the middle," Wendorff said. "They couldn't seem to find her with the block, and we took advantage really early."

Later in the match, Worthington's Lizzy Wetering (seven kills) slammed a kill, an ace by Carrie Timmerman (14-of-14 with four aces) and one of Alyssa Smith's five kills brought the Trojans back to within a point at 10-9.

Windom called a timeout and increased the lead to three.

However, Worthington would continue to fight and tie the game at 15.

Trailing by five, Worthington rallied off four points to bring the Trojans back to within a point.

The Eagles proved too much as they held on for a 25-21 victory.

In the second game, both teams traded points early. The combination of Amy Robinson and Malori Paplow was too much for the Trojans as Windom won the second game, 25-17.

"We were able to open up some things, and that opened up our right side hitting," Wendorff said. "Amy Robinson got rolling, and of course, any time we can get Megan Ysker the ball, she's going to put a good swing on it. I thought Malori Paplow played an outstanding game all the way around. She was all over the court; she was really the spark plug that kept us in there early and just carried us through the whole match."

Paplow ended with 11 kills and 10 digs, while Robinson had nine kills. Megan Ysker had six kills, while Courtney Ysker added four.

Megan Ysker set up the Windom offense with 27 set assists.

In Game 3, the Eagles held a 20-10 lead late in the game. The Trojans rallied, but came up short in a 25-18 Windom victory.

"I think what really hurt us tonight was our intensity," Clark said. "We started out strong, and we were playing enthusiastic. We just couldn't hold on to it, and this last game, we were just flat."

A bright spot for the Trojans was their defensive play at the net.

"Our blocking was better," Clark said. "We've been working on that. It's not where I want it to be yet, but I've seen improvement. We keep working towards the end of the season."

Ally Rotert had five blocks, while Wetering had two.

Holli Aggen had seven kills, Anneli Dudley had 14 set assists, and Rachel Pavelko had 10 digs for the Trojans.

The victory for the Eagles pushed their conference record to a game over .500.

"Any conference win is a big win for us, and on the road, it's even tougher," Wendorff said. "And of course, you have Worthington here that's a scrappy team that's going to battle."

For the Trojans, their last two matches have come against Jackson County Central and Windom, two teams ranked in the state.

"It doesn't get any easier," Clark said. "We just got done looking at next week, and we have a good one again next week. We'll keep fighting back."

Worthington will host Central Minnesota Christian on Monday before traveling to Wabasso on Thursday.

For Windom, the Eagles will host Martin County West on Monday and Blue Earth on Tuesday. They will host Pipestone Area on Thursday in a key Southwest Conference match.

"It sets up a big conference match for us with Pipestone, and we're happy that Pipestone is coming to our house," Wendorff said. "We're looking forward to that one, but it wouldn't have meant a thing if we couldn't have gotten by this one tonight. We don't look past anybody. But in the conference, next Thursday is a big match for us."