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Prep volleyball: Alive in 5, Worthington advances

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Worthington’s Paige Kinley (1) digs a serve as teammate Abbie Landgaard (19) backs up the play in Friday night’s volleyball match at the WHS gym.

WORTHINGTON —In a see-saw battle Friday night in Section 3AA volleyball action, Worthington survived a five-set ride in its home gymnasium over New Ulm.

The Trojans won their south sub-section match 25-18, 13-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-9. They travel to face Marshall in the quarterfinals Tuesday. The top-seeded Tigers were victors in a sweep over Luverne Friday on scores of 25-10, 25-14, 25-11.

Also in the south sub-section of 3AA Friday, Jackson County Central swept Fairmont and Pipestone Area edged St. James 3-2.

“It was a four versus five match. It kind of lived up to its hype, I guess,” Worthington volleyball coach Jessica Hogan said after the New Ulm result. “We’ve been on the losing end of five game matches this year. It was nice to see the girls put it all together to put away the victory.”

The Trojans jumped on the visiting Eagles early and led throughout a first set that was characterized by a fluid defensive effort. Worthington senior Abbie Landgaard had an ace serve that gave her team a 17-14 lead. It jump-started a 3-1 run that aided the Trojans in widening the gap and ostensibly claiming the set.

Worthington held an initial edge in the second set before the Eagles made their move. New Ulm’s Alley Grejtak slammed an ace that sparked the visitors to a 9-8 lead. They would not relinquish their hold. Strong defense for the Eagles kept Worthington at bay. The Trojans would not come closer than six points in the frame.

Worthington’s Becca Linder put down a kill and gave her black-and-red a 6-5 lead in the third stanza before New Ulm once again gained life, clawing back on a block from senior Katie Forst to tie the set at 13-all. The teams would trade leads seven times. The Trojans took advantage of three straight New Ulm errors to win the frame.

New Ulm jumped out early in the fourth set and Worthington did the same in the fifth set. It was how the night went and, at this point in the year, it is all about advancing to fight another day. Worthington did just that.

“I think we battled hard for every point. We gave ourselves a chance to be there at the end,” Hogan said after the final horn sounded. “We made some good plays at the end. When things were really going, it was a team effort. Our back row was solid all night defensively and we had some good touches at the net. I was really pleased with our defense. We covered the floor well.”

Seniors Brooke Henning (25), Paige Gravenhof (24), Abbie Landgaard (22), and Paige Kinley (21) helped that team effort defensively with over 20 digs apiece for the Trojans. Linder had two blocks. Henning had 23 kills and senior Allie Bruns added 13. Linder had 11. Gravenhof set up the offense with 30 set assists and junior Betsey Thompson added 10.

The Trojans’ next opponent, Marshall, is the Southwest Conference champion and comes into Tuesday’s tilt at Marshall at 26-3. Worthington now stands at 14-15.

“We’re excited and are looking forward to it,” Hogan said of Tuesday’s trip north. “We’ll be well prepared and ready to go.”

Jackson County Central 3, Fairmont 0

JACKSON — Second-seeded Jackson County Central opened section tournament action in fine form, sweeping past the Fairmont Cardinals 3-0.

In advancing to 21-7 on the season, the Huskies rolled by the Cards 25-16, 25-9 and 25-10.

JCC spread its spike kills literally throughout the team. Sophomore outside hitter Sydney Nyborg led the way with 12 kills and junior hitter Kaylee Burmeister had nine. Teammates Kenna Bannister had five and Abby Benson three. Sydney Eddy, Kathryn Nasby and Sarah Brandt added a kill apiece.

Rachel Johnson had 29 set assists to go along with six digs. Nasby had 14 digs and Burmeister added 11. Bannister and Nyborg had seven digs apiece.

Benson led the Huskies with two blocks.

On serving, Megan Edlin put 15 of 16 in play with three aces. Burmeister was 11-for-11 with two aces, Nyborg 13-for-14 with two aces and Nasby 12-for-12 with one ace.

Pipestone Area 3, St. James 2

PIPESTONE —In a thrilling back-and-forth five-setter, Pipestone Area survived St. James. Scores were 25-22, 16-25, 21-25, 26-24 and 15-12.

The Arrows, seeded third in the tournament to St. James’ sixth, had to rally to win the match after trailing two games to one. Serving, which had let them down earlier in the match, led to their eventual victory. Kelly Nettik, a senior setter, was on the service line when PA closed out the fourth game by two points. Maddie Kennedy, a sophomore middle hitter, put two serves in play to win the fifth game for the Arrows.

As exciting as the match was, said Pipestone Area head coach Dave Dulas, “it kind of came down to which team was going to make the fewest mistakes.”

Pipestone Area is 15-11 on the season.

Anneka Bucher and Megan Remund had 16 kills apiece for the Arrows, and teammate Tarryn Woelber contributed nine. Nettik had 48 set assists and Brittany Evans had 16 digs.

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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