By Les Knutson
WORTHINGTON -- Effectively blending sparkling performances from its senior veterans, along with stellar play by several younger players, the Worthington High School varsity volleyball squad was clicking on all cylinders Tuesday evening in an impressive 3-0 sweep of the Fulda Raiders in the Trojans’ first home match of the new season.
Game scores were 25-14, 25-13 and 25-12.
Fresh off a hard-fought 3-2 triumph over Waseca in the Big South Showdown at Windom on Saturday, the Trojans came out strong against the Raiders and held a scoreboard edge nearly the entire night.
“Our energy level was really good the whole match,” summed up a well-pleased WHS head coach Jessica Hogan. “I like how we hustled and covered the court. We were able to put together several long serving runs and stay on top.”
The Trojans, now 2-1 this season, had only six service errors all night as a mixture of players put the ball in play which kept the Raiders on the defensive most of the match. As a team, Worthington was 72-of-78 from the service line for a very good 91.7 percent.
Senior middle hitter Emma Thuringer (14-of-14) and freshman setter Stephanie Bauman (11-of-11) each served 100 percent, while junior outside hitter Anna Meyer was 14-of-15, including rattling off 11 straight service points for the Trojans to help clinch the third game.
Bauman, who hustled well in the back row and made numerous saves, finished the match with a team-high four aces and was credited with 10 digs.
The very athletic Thuringer was a force at the net, knocking down eight kills and coming through with five ace blocks.
Senior setter Anneke Weg fed Thuringer often -- both with short sets and with high ones -- and Emma responded with a variety of well-placed kills.
“Anneke and Emma have a connection with each other,” Hogan said. “Emma just knows what kind of set Anneke is going to give her.”
Weg finished the match with 20 set assists, 11 digs and five kills of her own as she placed several sets to open spots on Fulda’s defense. She spread the ball out well, as three other Trojan hitters combined for 17 kills, giving Worthington a balanced offensive attack.
Freshman middle hitter Sophie Wietzema delivered some hard smashes and finished with eight kills, while Meyer (five kills) and sophomore right side hitter Madisyn Huisman (four kills) also had their share of spikes for points.
After Fulda had tied the score at 11-11 in the third game, the Trojans took control, starting with a right-side kill by Weg, a coffin-corner kill (left back) from the middle by Wietzema and a thundering left-side kill by Huisman -- off a long cross-court set from Weg.
With Meyer at the service line, the Trojans rattled off eight more points, assuming a 22-11 lead.
Fittingly it was a bump-set-spike from Bauman to Weg to Thuringer which scored the match’s final point, capping Worthington’s clinching 14-1 run.
Sophomore defensive specialist Payton Sauebrei played well as Worthington’s libero, coming up with eight digs and scoring 10 service points on a 13-of-16 night at the line.
“We want to get better with each match and we are doing that,” concluded Hogan. “This was the best we’ve played so far.”
Camryn Baumhoefner, a senior middle hitter, led Fulda at the net with six kills, while senior setter Emily Schroer put up nine assists. Junior outside hitter Francis Piper played well and delivered a trio of kills, including a scorcher which highlighted a brief Raider run in the third game, which was capped by an ace serve by Baumhoefner.
But the Trojans, who were in command during the first two games, scored 11 unanswered points and completed the sweep.
Worthington hosts Southwest Christian Thursday night, while the Raiders (0-2) have a week before hosting Westbrook-Walnut Grove on Sept. 7.