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Eagles and Quasars triumph, will meet for sub-section title

LUVERNE -- With each match needing four games, the Windom Eagles and the Southwest Star Concept Quasars were each victorious in the sub-section 3A south volleyball tournament Tuesday night.

After MCC (17-10) defeated Windom 25-20 in the first game of the first match, the Eagles recovered with three consecutive victories, 25-16, 25-12, 25-14 to claim the victory.

In the second match of the night, SSC won the first two games, 25-15, 27-25, before Southwest Christian (17-6) came back with a 25-17 victory in Game 3. The Quasars rallied in Game 4 with a 25-23 victory.

Windom (27-2) will face SSC (21-7) at 8 p.m. Thursday night at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Windom 3, MCC 1

After MCC dominated much of the first game en route to a five-point victory, Windom recovered with three straight victories.

"Well, obviously we started out a little bit rough," Windom head coach Ron Wendorff said. "I don't know if we were too tight or too tense, I'm not really sure what it was, but we obviously weren't playing up to our capabilities by any means."

Behind two kills from Emily Bose (seven kills, four blocks, eight digs and 13-of-15 serving with three aces), the Rebels held a 4-2 lead in the early going.

With another hit from Bose and a tip from Kate Robinson (five kills, five digs), MCC built a 7-4 lead -- forcing a Windom timeout.

Out of the timeout, both teams traded points, as MCC maintained a four-point lead at 13-9.

From then on, MCC went on a 6-0 run to take a 19-9 lead.

"To MCC's credit, they came out and were playing excellent volleyball," Wendorff said. "They kept some balls alive, and we were having some trouble with the Bose girl in the middle. They were just more ready to play than we were the first game."

Behind the play of Amy Robinson (17 kills, 2 solo blocks), the Eagles rattled off a five-point run of their own to climb back into the game.

The Rebels held on to their five-point lead for the rest of the game en route to a 25-20 victory.

"We thought they were a beatable team and we came out and we played like we could beat them, and we did," MCC head coach Donna Johansen said. "We played a great game and it's not our first game that we've played like that."

After MCC scored the first point in the second game, Windom's Casey Christensen (eight kills, six solo blocks) put down a kill to even the game at 1-all.

Later in the match, with the game tied at 7-all, a hit by Windom's Malori Paplow (eight kills, eight digs, 15-of-18 serving, three aces) sparked a six-point run to give the Eagles a 13-7 lead.

MCC was never able to recover as Windom went on to the 25-16 Game 2 victory.

Windom controlled the third game from the beginning. The Eagles jumped out to an 8-1 lead, forcing a MCC timeout.

"Their serving hurt us in the third game, and it really wasn't bothering us the first two games, but that's the way it is," Johansen said.

With a six-point lead, Windom's Paplow rattled off six straight points as the Eagles jumped out to a 19-6 lead.

MCC was able to run off four straight points, but Windom proved to be too much in the 25-12 victory.

Windom started the fourth game with a 9-3 lead and never looked back as Megan Ysker (10 kills, 30 set assists) put the final touches on a 25-14 Windom victory.

For the Eagles, it was the right side that proved the difference offensively.

"We wanted attack their right side; one right side had 17 kills and the other had 10, so we thought that we would be pretty effective in our right side attack against them, and obviously it was," Wendorff said.

For Robinson, 17 kills was a career-high.

"She's a senior, and Amy is probably one of our most improved players from the end of the last season to now," Wendorff said. "We said we were going to go to her as much as we could, and she's stepped up. I'm extrememly proud of her. I know it's a career high in kills and she's just a great kid -- well deserving of having a big match for us."

Windom will face SSC, who defeated SWC later in the night.

"Hopefully we'll be a little more relaxed against SWC," Wendorff said.

SSC 3, SWC 1

With four highly-contested games, the Soutwest Star Concept survived another day with a victory over Southwest Christian.

"They are just a good team," SWC assistant coach Delaine Vander Woude said. "(SSC head coach) Rick (Haberman) always has his team ready for the tournament and this year was their year."

The two teams had met prior to Tuesday's meeting, with SWC victorious, 3-2, so each team entered with an understanding of their opponent.

"Everybody on our team understood that we were going to have to fight and scrap and battle the entire match," SSC head coach Rick Haberman said. "We all understood that it was going to be a real tough match, and whoever made a play or two more down the stretch was going to win the match."

In Game 1, SWC started by making the plays. The Eagles started with a 4-1 lead in the early going.

However, the Quasars would fight back. Behind the serving of Elizabeth Paul (15-of-16, five aces) SSC went on a 6-0 run to take a 12-8 lead.

Behind kills from Erika Post (eight kills, 10 digs, one ace block) and a block from Katherine Kazemba (11 digs, one block) the Quasars humped out to a 20-13 advantage. SSC held on for a 25-15 victory in Game 1.

"I thought we came out real strong in Game 1," Haberman said. "I thought it was important to set the tone, play hard and be aggressive."

After a tough loss in the first game, the Eagles came roaring back in Game 2.

Tied at 10-all, two kills by Kara Van Dyke (15 kills, two ace serves, three blocks) sparked a three-point run for the Eagles.

SWC maintained its three point lead until the Quasars made their run.

Trailing 24-21 and facing game-point, SSC went on a four-point run to take a 25-24 lead.

A hit by SWC's Jada Vander Veen tied the game, but a bad serve and a hit out of bounds by the Eagles gave SSC a 27-25 Game 2 victory.

"In Game 2, I thought Southwest Christian played much better," Haberman said. "I thought it was pretty big that we were able to come back and take that game, because we were able to come and win that one down the stretch."

Determined not to get swept, the Eagles started Game 3 with a 7-2 lead -- forcing a SSC timeout.

Behind the play of Brianna Spronk (10 kills, three blocks), the Eagles never trailed in the third game en route to a 25-17 victory.

"In Game 3, I thought Southwest Christian just kept playing better and better," Haberman said. "I thought at times during the night, we were out of sync. If you look at the whole match, a lot of the match, we were kind of rag-tag, especially after Game 1. That's competition, everything isn't always going to be perfect, and everything isn't going to be how you want it."

The fourth game went back and forth in the early going.

Tied at 11-all, SWC rattled off three straight points to take a slim three-point lead.

That lead would last until the Quasars were able to tie the game at 21.

After a SWC timeout and a hit out of bounds by the Eagles, Luanna Henkels (13 set assists, 18-of-20 serving, four aces) served a ball that barely cleared the net and fell for an ace -- giving SSC a two-point advantage.

Post put the final touches on the victory with a well-placed hit, as the Quasars won, 25-23.

"I was impressed with how we fought through," Haberman said. "We struggled quite a bit in the last three games of the match, but we were able to hang in there and win two close games."

Even after a rough first game, Vander Woude gave her team credit for not giving up.

"For us, we had to relax after that first game, which we did," Vander Woude said. "We've struggled with passing a lot this year, and but they seemed to come around. Their heart is always there, and we've always prided ourselves on being tough come tournament time -- it just wasn't meant to be this year."

For SSC, it may not have been a pretty victory, but it was good enough to advance.

"We probably didn't get any style points, but we won three games and that was our main objective," Haberman said. "We're fortunate that we've played well enough to move on, and we need to get ready to play another match."

SSC will face Windom Thursday for the change to represent Section 3 at the state tournament.