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W-WG edges Edgerton, 3-2

LUVERNE -- After controlling most of Game 1 and posting a six-point victory, Westbrook-Walnut Grove had to rally from a 2-1 deficit Monday night at the Luverne High School Gym, earning advancement to the quarterfinals of the Section 3A South volleyball tournament with a thrilling 3-2 victory over Edgerton.

Game scores were 25-19, 23-25, 20-25, 25-16, 15-13.

With the win, the Chargers (13-13-1) continue their season and will play top-seeded Windom (25-2) at 6 p.m. Friday in Luverne's Elementary School Gym.

The eighth-seeded Flying Dutchmen, who defeated the Chargers in three straight games during the regular season (at Edgerton, Sept. 25), finish the season with a mark of 9-15.

"We played well much of the match," said veteran EHS head coach Randy Butson. "We did not block as well, as we sometimes do, in that first game. But, after that, we got a piece of lots of balls and scored some points with our blocking."

Behind the powerful spiking of six-foot junior middle hitter Audra Schmidt, the Chargers took several commanding leads in the opener, including advantages of 12-5 and 17-11.

An ace serve by setter Alisha Parker (20 set assists, 18-of-19 serving, including three aces for the match) gave W-WG its biggest lead at 18-11.

Sophomore outside hitter Kylie Erickson (13 kills, 25 digs) was also impressive for the Chargers in that first game, driving several balls into open gaps on the Edgerton side of the net.

But with momentum, seemingly on its side and the Flying Dutchmen missing on several serving chances, the Chargers were unable to maintain the same level of play in Game 2.

Four of W-WG's first 10 points in that second game came as a result of missed Edgerton serves. But the Dutchmen were playing the net better and blocking more of the Charger spikes. They were also hustling in the back row and digging well.

"We made lots of fine plays with our hustle," praised Butson. "Plus, we blocked or deflected lots of balls at the net, which allowed us to keep it in play."

With the score tied at 10-10, Erickson (16-of-18 serving, four aces) delivered back-to-back ace serves, giving the Chargers a 12-10 lead.

A kill and an ace block by Schmidt (22 kills, four blocks) lifted the lead to 16-12, but Edgerton rallied with a 13-7 run to close out the game and even the match.

Sophomore Kelsey Wolthuizen (nine kills) and senior Karli Decker (seven kills, eight digs) paced the Dutchmen at the net, while their teammates continued to hustle and save balls.

A kill by sophomore Alyson Drooger (five kills, four blocks), gave EHS game point at the end.

A back-and-forth Game 3 followed with several lead changes. Edgerton, however, took a 13-9 lead on an ace serve by sophomore setter Macy Butson (22-of-24 serving for 14 points, including a pair of aces) and began showing its strength at the net.

An ace serve by Decker increased the EHS lead to 16-11. W-WG rallied, behind the fine net play of freshman Taylor Elzenga (10 kills), but at game's end, Emily Sluis (five kills, three blocks) and Wolthuizen teamed for the game-winning ace block for the Dutchmen.

Down two games to one, the Chargers needed a lift and they got it at the beginning of Game 4, as senior libero Jenny Hoffman jump-started the Chargers with an ace serve.

"I am glad that a put that one," exclaimed Hoffman, who made several fundamentally-solid digs during the match. "We usually play well when we get off to a good start -- we feed off of each other's enthusiasm. This was a fun match for us."

A dual block by Schmidt and Erickson followed Hoffman's ace, and later the Chargers held an 8-3 lead on a screaming kill by Elzenga.

Playing well, W-WG opened up leads of 13-7 and 16-8. Good net by Jensen helped the Charger surge, as did a spectacular play by Sara Jarmer to Jensen to Erin Vosberg -- when all three girls made one-armed saves and returned the ball over the net.

"We have been stressing defense," said a well-pleased W-WG head coach Natalie Ross after the match. "That play was a good example of our good defense and our hustling effort."

Big hits by Erickson and Schmidt moved the score to 21-15 in favor of the Chargers and after an ace serve by Parker and a nice set from Parker to Schmidt, W-WG had 25 points and the match was tied at two games each.

Game 5 was tight all the way.

Edgerton took a 3-1 lead on an ace serve by Decker and held a 5-2 edge after a kill by Drooger. But a pounding spike by Elzenga, an ace block by Jensen and a spike kill by Erickson gave W-WG a 9-7 lead.

A bit later, Sluis blocked Schmidt to tie the score at 10-all and then Schmidt and Elzenga teamed for a block on Drooger, lifted the Chargers up 12-11. With the score tied at 12-12, Elzenga and Wolthuizen exchanged kills, before Jensen set Erickson for a kill, putting the Chargers at game-point and match-point.

A missed spike attempt by the Dutchmen ended the closely-contested match and gave the victory to the ninth-seeded Chargers.

"We just came off a well-played victory over Red Rock Central and believe that we are peaking at the right time," said Ross. "We are playing well as a team and playing with confidence."

Sara Jarmer finished with five kills and a team-high 32 set assists for W-WG, while Kassandra Jarmer contributed 18 timely digs to the winning effort.