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Section 3AA volleyball: JCC sweeps Pipestone Area

Les Knutson

Daily Globe 

JACKSON — Serving 16 aces, spread among five players, and sparked by a 10-kill performance at the net by junior outside hitter Kaylee Burmeister, Jackson County Central rolled on its home court Tuesday evening, sweeping Pipestone Area in the semifinals of the Section 3AA South high school volleyball tournament.

Set scores were 25-8, 25-16 and 25-9.

JCC won its sixth consecutive match and improved to 22-7 for the season, advancing again to the sub-section championship match against the top-seeded Marshall Tigers, who are Minnesota’s No. 1 rated Class AA team. Marshall (27-3) advanced with a sweep over the fourth-seeded Worthington Trojans Tuesday at Marshall.

Thursday’s championship match will be played at Windom, with the opening serve being launched at 7 p.m.

“We are excited about the chance to play Marshall again and are really looking forward to having the match at Windom, which is a great place to play volleyball,” summed up JCC head coach Teresa Van Epps about the opportunity to tangle with the Tigers again. “We had a great match with them during the season, here in Jackson. We lost in three sets, but each one was close and competitive.”

Marshall defeated the Huskies in that Sept. 19 Southwest Conference match by scores of 25-23, 25-20, 25-20.

Serving at an 89 percent clip (64-of-72) Tuesday, the Huskies controlled most of the action against the third-seeded Arrows, who earned leads of 3-0, 5-2, 8-5 and 11-7 in Game 2. But, aided by those 16 aces and a solid play in the back row, JCC maintained leads the rest of the match.

“We did miss eight serves,” noted Van Epps. “But we served 16 aces, as we worked at trying to serve to the seams, which I think the girls did well.”

JCC came out firing in the opener, posting leads of 5-0, 10-3, 16-4 and 22-6 before an ace serve by junior setter Rachel Johnson clinched the 17-point win.

After the Arrows, behind some good early serves by sophomore Anneka Bucher and solid front row play from sophomore Maddie Kennedy and freshman Kiaya Alderson, had lifted PA to its four-point lead, Burmeister took over at the service line and the Huskies rattled off a dozen straight points.

Burmeister, who was 14-of-16 serving, including six aces, delivered four of those aces during that span and a pair of nifty net plays by junior middle hitter Sarah Brandt, along with a hammering left-side kill from senior outside hitter Kenna Bannister helped the Huskies claim a 19-11 advantage.

The Arrows played well the rest of Game 2, as an ace serve by senior setter Kelly Nettik, a couple of kills from senior outside hitter Meg Remund and a kill by Alderson allowed PA to finish the set with 16 points.

The Huskies, however, countered with a strong third set and posted leads of 3-0, 5-2, 13-4 and 21-6 before the Arrows rallied briefly on consecutive kills by Kennedy, Alderson and senior outside hitter Amanda Fikse

JCC scored the last four points with freshman setter Lacey Walker serving for the last three.

A long set from junior middle hitter Alison Benson to Burmeister for a powerful kill ended the match.

An example of a stellar play by the Huskies occurred when JCC had a 17-6 advantage and three consecutive digs — by junior defensive specialist Kelly Brinkman, Johnson and Brandt — kept the ball in play and gave their team another point.

“We played good defense, to go along with our aggressive serving and hitting,” concluded Van Epps. “Our junior libero Kathryn Nasby is our vocal leader from the back row and does a great job of communicating things to our front row.”

Nasby finished with a team-leading 13 digs for the Huskies, while Johnson (30 set assists and four ace serves) came up with six digs.

Brinkman, who was 16-of-18 serving, had three ace serves, while freshman middle hitter Abby Benson (seven kills, five ace blocks) served a pair of aces and Nasby (seven-of-seven) also had an ace serve.

Brandt (six kills) and Johnson each had a pair of ace blocks, while Bannister smacked four kills.

The Arrows, who won six straight matches in late September and advanced in tournament play with a 3-2 victory over sixth-seeded St. James last Friday, finish their season with a 15-12 overall record.