Eagles sweep Quasars, face Vikings for section title
MARSHALL -- With a sweep over Southwest Star Concept Thursday night in Marshall, the Windom Eagles' volleyball team is one victory away from making a state tournament appearance.
Windom (28-2) will face Minneota, who defeated Renville County West in four games, Saturday night at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Game time is slated for 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
"I'm really excited," Casey Christensen said. "We came out excited to play and we're looking forward to Saturday. We haven't been here in a long time, so it's nice to be here."
For Windom head coach Ron Wendorff, it's a well-deserved place for the team to be.
]"It's nice for our school," Wendorff said. "It's been a while since we've been in the sub-section finals and to get past this hurdle again is going to be a lot of fun. It's a great thing for these kids. They've worked hard and they deserve it."
Windom defeated SSC 25-13, 25-17 and 25-18 to earn the sweep.
"It was a great match," Wendorff said. "I thought Southwest Star played a great match, and they dug a lot of balls on us. We were able to serve and serve receive, which were two of our goals going into the match."
The Quasars (21-8) managed just two aces, both from Erika Post (11-of-13 serving, seven points, and seven kills).
"That's not giving away many points," Wendorff said. "That was our goal, not to give away points and make them beat us, and our kids responded to that task as well as I could have asked them to."
However, it wasn't all easy going for the Eagles. Behind the serving of Post, SSC held a 3-0 lead in the first game.
The Eagles came back with three straight points behind an ace from Megan Ysker (23 set assists, 18-of-18 serving, five aces, 13 digs).
The two teams traded points until Windom's Malori Paplow (11-of-11 serving, two aces, and 11 digs) had two straight kills to give Windom a three-point advantage -- forcing a SSC timeout.
"We were able to stay a little more consistent during that stretch and not let them go on big runs," SSC head coach Rick Haberman said. "We gave up too many big runs, against a good team like that, you need to limit the runs to two or three points to give yourself a chance."
Windom went on a big 8-3 run in the middle of Game 1 en route to a 25-13 Eagles victory.
The Quasars held their ground to start the second game. Windom looked as if it was going to pull away with an early 4-point lead, but SSC battled back behind a kill from Maddie Collin to pull within a point.
However, behind the play of Christensen, the Eagles increased the lead to 16-11. After a flurry of mistakes by Windom, SSC cut the lead to five points, but Windom proved too much in a 25-17 Game 2 victory.
Even though Windom jumped out to the early lead in the third game, it was SSC that had the momentum in the early going. Behind a tip from SSC's Sydney Place (10 digs), the Quasars held a two-point advantage.
SSC increased its lead to 8-4, but Windom came roaring back with a 7-1 run to reclaim the lead.
With the game still undecided, and the scored tied at 14-all, Windom finished with an 11-4 run for the victory.
"We knew we were going to have to play a fantastic match to beat them," Haberman said. "We didn't play as well as we're capable of, and Windom played well."
For SSC, a balanced Windom attack presented problems for the defense.
"They just had a little too much power for us at the net," Haberman said. "We were able to scramble and keep stuff alive at times. We played defense most of the night, and they were on the attack most of the time."
Christensen had 11 kills, while Amy Robinson had nine, Courtney Ysker had eight, Paplow had seven, and Megan Ysker had six.
"That's ideal," Wendorff said of the balanced attack. "We had great production from every one of our hitters, and we probably didn't have a whole lot of attack errors either. Our kids were making good decisions, and going places where we had the advantage."
Chelsey Cranston and Luanna Henkels each had six set assists, while Michelle Olsem had two ace blocks for SSC.
Windom will now face another tough test in the Minneota Vikings Saturday.
"We know that they are very tournament tested and very comfortable on this floor," Wendorff said of Minneota. "We're just going to have to play our game."
For Christensen, blocking will be a key.
"I think we're going to have to keep up the intensity and push ourselves," Christensen said. "For me, I have to work on blocking."
But for SSC, the loss marked the end of the season.
"What's disappointing is the season is over," Haberman said. "You set goals, and when you don't achieve a goal, it's disappointing."
Following the match, it was announced that Wendorff was selected as the 3A south sub-section coach of the year.
"That's a great honor," Wendorff said. "That's so much the kids' part of it. You're just blessed to have a team like this. Obviously I'm honored to get the award, but it's the kids that deserve it."