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College volleyball: Yellowjackets sting Lady Jays

AARON HAGEN/DAILY GLOBE Rochester Community College Yellowjacket Natalie Reinardy (4) tries to hit through a determined block attempt by Minnesota West’s Brittney Hermeling (1) Wednesday night in Worthington.

Aaron Hagen

Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Kristen Andersen said the Lady Jays have the ability to play with anyone.

Coming off a season-opening victory against Anoka-Ramsey a week ago, the Minnesota West volleyball team was up against a nationally-ranked Rochester Community College team Wednesday night. The visiting Yellowjackets left with a three-game victory.

“We haven’t really got to our peak yet,” said Andersen, a sophomore outside hitter for the Lady Jays. “But against Anoka, we showed we can play with any team. We can play with Rochester, we just have to get our ducks in a row and go from there.”

The Lady Jays were able to stick with the ninth-ranked Yellowjackets at times, but mistakes proved to be too costly in a 25-14, 25-14, 25-11 sweep.

“We knew they were obviously good, but we can play with them,” Andersen said. “With how many mistakes we had, we were right in the game with them. There’s just stuff we have to work on, like getting our blocks up and our passes. We just have to work on everything and tonight showed what we have to work on.”

Serve receive was an area MW head coach Marie Johnson said the team will focus on during practice. Rochester finished with 14 ace serves on the night.

“We can’t have our setters chasing the ball around all the time,” Johnson said. “It’s really hard to get a nice clean hit off a setter chasing the ball. They work their hardest and they move to get the ball. But if you’re not up at the net, you can’t set up quick. It’s definitely something we’ve been focusing on in practice and we’re going to continue to work on our serve receive. Everything starts with that.”

MW built an early lead in Game 1, jumping out to a 4-1 advantage behind a solid kill by Melissa Gehl.

“We were nervous coming here because of the crowd,” said RCTC head coach Amber Zitzow. “The crowd is pretty loud and it’s a new facility. The girls have never played in this facility before. I was pleased with how they played.”

Rochester answered with an 18-3 run. Andersen’s kill ended the run for RCTC and Becca Linder added a kill for MW as it tried to claw back into the game. Brittney Hermeling had an ace and Morgan Harberts scored on a tip shot, but RCTC was too much in the first game.

“Rochester got a couple of runs, we got a little bit flustered and things went downhill for a little while,” Johnson said. “They got a really nice run and we just weren’t able to come back out of it.”

Behind a pair of hits by Brianna Atkins — who finished with a match-high 14 kills — Rochester jumped out to a 6-1 advantage in Game 2.

“Game 2, I’d say our feet were a little bit stuck,” Johnson said. “The ball would get slowed down by a block and unfortunately, if it wasn’t right to us and we weren’t right there, we weren’t really picking it up.”

MW stuck with the Yellowjackets early in the third game, but RCTC pulled away and completed the sweep.

“Runs seem to get us,” Johnson said. “We’ve talked a lot, we have a lot of mountaintops and we have a lot of valleys. Unfortunately, it would be really great if we could just stay at one level. I think that’s something that we found we have to work on.”

Johnson said she was pleased with some aspects of the match.

“We did a great job of getting touches on some of their hits,” she said. “Our blocks really were pretty good tonight. There weren’t a lot of kill blocks, but there were touches on the ball to slow them down.”

Minnesota West falls to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the Southern Division. It will be on the road Saturday to play Dordt College’s junior varsity squad.