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Prep volleyball playoffs: Worthington hoping to peak at the right time

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe The Worthington Trojans volleyball team practices Wednesday afternoon at the WHS gym in preparation for the upcoming playoff season.

WORTHINGTON —Things will matter a little more for area volleyball teams as the postseason has arrived.

The Worthington Trojans (11-12-3) will take to their home court Friday night at 7 p.m. and embark on 3AA Sub-Section Volleyball Tournament action. Their foe is New Ulm (13-13-1).

Other area teams included in the Trojans’ sub-section are second-seeded Jackson County Central (20-7), third-seeded Pipestone Area (14-10-1), and eighth-seeded Luverne (10-11-2). The south sub-section’s top seed is Marshall (25-3).

Worthington comes into its first round match with New Ulm 10 days removed from a regular season-capper on Oct. 15 against Windom Area. The Eagles outlasted the Trojans 3-1 on that night. It was a night where things could have swung either way at various junctures.

“We wanted to be playing our best volleyball at the end of the season. For long stretches against Windom we did that. Unfortunately against a good team like Windom, you have to do it for the entire match,” WHS coach Jessica Hogan said. “At some key moments in the game, when we needed to make a big play, we couldn’t get it done.

“Hopefully, if we’re in that situation again, we will be able to capitalize,” Hogan added.

Worthington carries into the sub-section tournament an even 4-4 mark in the regular season against section opponents. One of its four wins from that group of teams came over New Ulm. The Trojans swept New Ulm 25-22, 25-19, 25-22 on the road on Aug. 29.

The Eagles of New Ulm enter Friday’s postseason opener the winners of four straight matches, thanks to a strong showing at the Subway Classic recently in Marshall. The Eagles earned wins against Fulda, Adrian, and sub-section mate St. James. They then traveled to St. James three days later and again earned a victory, ending their regular season.

“Our match against them was an early season matchup for both teams. I think both teams were just getting their feet under them at that time of the year,” Hogan said of the Eagles. “This match will be different as both teams are playing at a higher level. New Ulm brings some height at the net along with some athleticism. They will serve tough and play hard.”

Coach Hogan said she hopes her team will carry with them things already experienced into postseason play. The winner of Friday’s match advances to the second round. That is scheduled for Tuesday, against either Luverne or Marshall.

“The postseason is a new season for all teams. Our mentality is to carry all of our good moments from the season with us and also carry with us everything we’ve learned from the moments where we weren’t playing our best,” Hogan commented. “We have a veteran group of players who know what it takes to be successful in the playoffs. They have led us through a great week of practice and I am confident they will lead us to our best come game time.”

JCC, Pipestone Area and others gear up for first round

Jackson County Central carries a strong head of steam into playoff action Friday night, hosting nearby Fairmont (seventh seed) in the first round Friday night.

The Huskies end the regular season at 20-7 and were runners-up in the Southwest Conference, falling only to Marshall along the way. Marshall upended JCC in a sweep in mid-September.

The winner of JCC’s opening round match against Fairmont goes on to face either St. James or Pipestone Area next Tuesday.

“As far as our team is concerned, we are healthy. Last week we had injuries plaguing our team a little bit. It was nice to come back from the MEA weekend healthy again,” JCC coach Teresa Van Epps said. “The girls are working to get better as a team and individually. We will have to play our game against Fairmont and have to be consistent with our serving and our defense.”

PA sits as a third seed in the south sub-section and readies for its first round match Friday night on its home floor against St. James. The Arrows lost the final two matches of their season against two formidable opponents, Southwest Christian and JCC. As the sub-section’s third seed, they will go up against a 12-16-1 St. James club that comes off a regular season where they finished 1-6 against section foes.

Should it win, Pipestone Area would play either JCC or Fairmont next Tuesday on the higher seed’s home court.

“We’ve been playing pretty well lately and we’re happy with where we’re at and where we are seeded. We just want to come out and play hard. We have a tough south section,” Arrows coach Dave Dulas said. “We’re not the biggest dog in the fight, but we’ll see how far we can get.”

Coming in as the eighth-seeded team in the south sub-section of 3AA volleyball action is Luverne. The Cardinals face a tall task in their first round playoff meeting in Marshall Friday night. They finish the regular season with a section record of 2-7, earning wins over Pipestone Area and Worthington along their scheduled trail of 3AA teams.

“Marshall will be a tough match,” Luverne volleyball coach Renee Reuter said. “But with teamwork and determination, anything can happen.”

Section 3A girls push into second round Friday night

Section 3A’s south sub-section began with four matchups Monday night, pitting the group’s bottom eight seeds against each other. With those winners determined, they now face one of the bracket’s top four seeds on the road in the second round Friday night. The top four had first round byes.

Seventh-seeded Westbrook-Walnut Grove will face second seed Southwestern United in Windom at 6 p.m. followed by a match between sixth-seeded Red Rock Central and third-seeded Murray County Central.

In Luverne, ninth-seeded Adrian faces top seed Tracy-Milroy-Balaton in the 6 p.m. match at Luverne with a tussle between fifth seeded Southwest Christian and fourth-seeded Wabasso to follow. In the north, MACCRAY goes against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and Lakeview faces Central Minnesota Christian in Marshall. Renville County West meets Dawson-Boyd and K-M-S faces Minneota in Montevideo.

Caleb Nelson
Caleb Nelson is the Daily Globe sports writer. He hails from southwest Iowa and served as sports editor at the Audubon County Advocate Journal there for 2 ½ years before moving to Worthington in October 2013. Caleb trys to enjoy life and everybody that he meets. He enjoys music, playing guitar and drums, and is an avid sports fan. 
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