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Pipestone Area has just enough to beat Fulda

FULDA -- Monday night's non-conference volleyball tilt between Fulda and Pipestone Area had all the makings of a sectional final match -- big hitting, quick defense and great athleticism. It was a shame that either team had to lose.

FULDA -- Monday night's non-conference volleyball tilt between Fulda and Pipestone Area had all the makings of a sectional final match -- big hitting, quick defense and great athleticism. It was a shame that either team had to lose.

Unfortunately for the Raiders (3-1, 8-3), the Arrows had that little something extra as Pipestone Area captured the match 20-25, 25-16, 31-29, 25-27, 15-12.

Outside hitter Faith Tinklenberg led the Arrows' attack with 17 kills on the night. The junior also played a fine defensive game with 13 digs and was 15-of-16 serving.

Junior middle hitter Nicole Buysse added 11 kills for PA (1-2, 10-5), while sophomore setter Meghan Visker posted 40 set assists. Senior Steph Kocourek was a perfect 18-of-18 behind the service line.

Fulda was paced by Laura Kramer and Kaitlyn Kramer with 17 kills apiece. The powerful hitting duo had five and four solo blocks, respectively.

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Junior setter Sam Raddle served as playmaker for the Raiders with 41 set assists, while Mandy Gunderman and Brooke Kuehne had 22 and 21 digs, respectively.

Gunderman was 23-of-23 serving with six aces and 12 points. Susan Fenske was also perfect from behind the service line, going 18-of-18 with three aces.

Tied at one game apiece, Game 3 proved to be a marathon. With the score tied 15 times during the game, neither team could find a chink in the other's armor to pull away.

The Arrows, who captured Game 2 after falling in the opener, finally grabbed a 22-18 advantage and appeared to be on their way to victory. But Gunderman, who kept the Arrow defense off balance all evening with her jump serve, pulled the Raiders back with three consecutive points (two aces).

With the game tied at 23-all, the teams traded punches with Buysse firing shots down the middle and Kaitlyn Kramer pounding balls off the block. The score bounced back and forth until it was 29-all.

Visker helped the Arrows pull ahead for good with a well-placed tip shot and junior Caitlyn Allen put it away with a thundering kill.

"I was a little nervous out there," said Visker, who was starting in her first varsity match -- in place of the injured Ashley Weatherly. "But my teammates helped calm me down and keep me focused."

With all the momentum in their favor, the Arrows quickly jumped out to a 6-3 advantage in Game 4 -- looking to get on the bus in a hurry. But the Raiders weren't about to let PA off so easy.

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"I was really proud of the way we fought back all night," Fulda head coach Jessica Hogan said. "We stayed right there with them -- right to the end."

With Laura Kramer drilling shots down the heart of the PA defense and Kaitlyn Kramer timing her blocks well, the Raiders pulled ahead 19-17. But Buysse let loose with two thumping blows to pull the Arrows even.

Again the lead changed hands several time before either team could gain an advantage. Tied at 25-all, Laura Kramer smashed two consecutive shots through the block to give the Raiders the game and tie the match at 2-all -- forcing a deciding fifth game.

"This was a good match from both teams," PA head coach Todd Texley said. "An 'A' for effort on the part of both sides. It really could have gone either way."

In the end, it was Tinklenberg and Buysse that made the plays at the net. Tied at 8-all in Game 5, Tinklenberg found the floor twice to give the Arrows the edge. Kaitlyn Kramer countered for a point, but Buysse followed with a pair of her own. Tinklenberg finished the with a cross-court kill to the corner.

"I think our passing was what got us through this match," Tinklenberg said. "Meghan's sets were awesome. We really needed this match to redeem us from the last match."

The Raiders are back in action today at Red Rock Central, while the Arrows are at Windom on Thursday.

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