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Trojans sweep Fulda in volleyball opener

WORTHINGTON -- Nobody went away disappointed in Worthington's 3-0 volleyball sweep of Fulda Friday night.

In the season opener for both teams, the Trojans were understandably happy with their victory. After a slow start, they exhibited an undeniable consistency, winning each game by identical 25-18 scores. Fulda head coach Jennifer Tiesler said she was pleased, too, in that the Raiders played a better season opener than they'd played in years.

Fulda started fast in the first game, moving out to a 12-6 lead before Worthington, behind improved serving and hitting play led by senior setter Paige Gravenhof at the line and senior outside hitter Brooke Henning at the net, began to assume control.

And once the Trojans got their feet under them, they maintained their composure throughout the remainder of the match.

"We just wanted to come out and stay positive no matter what happened. I think we just needed to get our jitters out," Gravenhof said. "We're really close outside the court. I think it came out on the court."

Fulda's Tiesler, even in a 3-0 setback, saw positives in her 2013 unit.

"I think it went really well," said the coach. "I'm very happy with my team. A great team effort. They worked well as a team, worked together well as a team. I was very happy with what I saw. This is the best start I've had in the four years I've coached."

A nice serving run by Raiders senior Myah Holinka helped the visitors work out to their 12-6 first-game lead, but several hard and low serves by Gravenhof helped turn the game around for WHS. Another serving run by senior Becca Linder kept the Trojans firmly in command, and Henning's well-executed spikes from the left side closed the deal.

Solid serving by senior Paige Kinley helped Worthington to a good start in the second game, and strong net play by Henning and Linder provided the hosts with a 7-1 lead before Fulda took a much-needed time-out. Fulda's Dani Hermeling, a 5-3 senior hitter, produced four winning serves to bring the Raiders from 15-9 down to within 15-13, but they could get no closer.

Hermeling opened the third game with three straight serving points for a 3-0 FHS advantage in a game that stayed close until the end. At 13-13, Worthington methodically pulled away. The lefty, Henning, delivered a spike from the corner for a 19-13 WHS lead. A Gravenhof ace spike was the final point.

Gravenhof finished with 20 set assists in the match, with seven digs. Henning led the winners with 10 kills, while Linder had seven and Betsy Thompson six. Linder also had six serve aces.

Abbie Landgaard had 13 digs and Kinley had six.

For Fulda, Hermeling was 11-for-12 serving with four aces, and she also had 19 digs. Randi Tiesler had 30 set assists and Courtney Tiesler five ace kills.

WHS head coach Jessica Hogan was smiling after the match.

"We talked about staying focused no matter what kind of start we had in the first game. But once we started playing we had some good moments. A lot of positive things to build on, which was good," Hogan said, adding, "This group plays well as a team. And we definitely have some individual skill which we hope to utilize within that team concept."

Worthington also prevailed in the B squad match, winning 3-0 on scores of 25-18, 25-20 and 15-12.

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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