Chargers sweep past Panthers

LUVERNE -- Westbrook-Walnut Grove utilized the powerful kills of senior middle hitter Audra Schmidt and sophomore left-side spiker Taylor Elzenga, along with a scrappy floor game, to win its 16th match of the season Monday night, as the Chargers ...

Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Westbrook-Walnut Grove's Taylor Elzenga (4) hits past a trio of Ellsworth defenders during Monday night's Section 3A tournament volleyball match in Luverne.

LUVERNE -- Westbrook-Walnut Grove utilized the powerful kills of senior middle hitter Audra Schmidt and sophomore left-side spiker Taylor Elzenga, along with a scrappy floor game, to win its 16th match of the season Monday night, as the Chargers posted a sweep (25-11, 25-13, 25-22) over Ellsworth in opening-round action of the Section 3A South high school volleyball tournament at the Luverne Elementary School gymnasium.

The seventh-seeded Chargers (16-13-2) have now won five matches in a row and will advance to tangle with second-seeded Southwest Christian in the tournament's quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Friday at the High School gym in Luverne.

"We will need to bring our 'A' game Friday," W-WG head coach Natalie Ross said after going over her team's statistics from the Ellsworth victory. "Each one of our girls will need to play with energy from the beginning to the end."

For the 10th-seeded Panthers, who held several leads in Game 3, the season ends with a 4-20 overall match record.

"We had some highlights tonight, particularly in that third game," Ellsworth head coach Leah Deutsch said. "Darian Herman's right-side kill was a momentum-changer, and both Andrea DeBoer and Molly Kramer had some nice ace serves."


While the Panthers held leads of 4-1, 6-3, 10-8 and 12-11 in Game 3, it was the Chargers who claimed the scoreboard advantages in each of the first two games.

Elzenga, who blasted four spike kills later in Game 1, delivered a free ball just inside the Ellsworth back line, giving W-WG an early 8-3 lead.

A bit later, an ace serve by Charger sophomore Chanel Madson forced a Panther timeout, as the W-WG lead increased to 12-4.

Elzenga came out of the break with her scorching hitting performance -- along with an ace serve -- lifting the Chargers to an 18-8 advantage.

A great dig by W-WG junior libero Kristie Hoffman (12 digs) was one of the highlights of that Charger surge.

"She plays tough back there," Ross said of Hoffman. "Kristie has been making digs like that for us all season."

A couple of kills by Schmidt -- off of sets by Kassandra Jarmer and Sara Jarmer -- extended the lead to 21-9.

After a W-WG missed serve, Ellsworth's Andrea DeBoer served an ace, cutting the advantage to 21-11.


But the Chargers responded with a nice dig-set-spike by Hoffman to Sara Jarmer to Schmidt, and W-WG had a 22-11 lead.

After a miscue by the Panthers, Madson spiked a kill and Schmidt served an ace to finish the game, 25-11.

A pair of dandy spikes by Amanda DeBoer (six kills, five digs) helped Ellsworth get out to a 3-2 lead in Game 2, but back-to-back ace serves by Schmidt (15-of-17 serving, three aces) started a 6-0 run for the Chargers.

Ellsworth came back with four straight points, including an ace serve by Andrea DeBoer (five kills, 8-of-9 serving, four points, two aces) to close the gap to 9-7.

But an ace serve by Madson put the capper on a 3-0 W-WG run and the Chargers were up by five, 12-7.

A few plays later, W-WG's Frankie Jensen pounded down a solid spike from the middle, and the lead was 14-9.

The Chargers then closed out the victory with an 11-4 run, highlighted by another ace serve by Elzenga (17-for-18 serving, five aces, six kills, 12 digs), along with a nice backset from Sara Jarmer (21 set assists) to Kassandra Jarmer for a spike kill.

Ellsworth's Lisa Gacke stroked an ace serve late in the game to give the Panthers a lift.


"It seemed to take us a while to get started in the first two games," noted Ross. "But we played more energetic at the end of those games and hit the ball harder."

Game 3 was closely contested all the way.

An ace serve by Becca Sieff (two ace blocks) gave the Panthers an early 4-1 lead. Later, a tip kill by Amanda DeBoer maintained the three-point advantage, 6-3.

Kylie Erickson's ace serve tied the contest at 7-all, and after Elzenga and Sara Jarmer combined for an ace block, giving the Chargers an 8-7 edge, Herman blasted the best kill of the match -- down the line -- knotting the score at 8-8.

"That was a huge hit by Darian," praised Deutsch. "That gave us a lift."

An ace serve by the left-handed Kramer (7-for-9 serving, four points, three aces, nine set assists, five digs) gave Ellsworth a 10-8 lead.

Sieff and Andrea DeBoer blocked an Elzenga spike attempt, giving the Panthers a 12-11 edge -- their last lead of the game.

"Give them credit," Ross said about the Panthers' play in the third game. "Their serving was stronger and well-placed, and they blocked us several times."


The Chargers, however, rallied with a 7-3 run, taking an 18-15 lead.

A middle kill by Alexis Quade accounted for one of W-WG's points in that surge, while Sieff and Amanda DeBoer teamed up to block Schmidt, scoring a point for Ellsworth.

A great save by Erickson to Hoffman to Erickson helped the Chargers stay ahead, but a powering spike by Brooke Kix (10-for-10 serving, three points) gave the Panthers a spark.

A kill by Jensen lifted W-WG to a 20-17 edge, but another ace serve by Kramer brought the Panthers to within one, 20-19.

The Chargers took a two-point lead on a Kassandra Jarmer pass to Sara Jarmer, who set Jensen for another kill.

A pair of hustling saves by Ellsworth libero Courtney Dreesen helped the Panthers tie the score at 21-21, but an ace serve by Elzenga, a dandy dig by Molly Jarmer and an ace block by Schmidt (match-high 12 kills) ended the game with a three-point win for the Chargers.

"I was proud of how we kept fighting to the end," concluded Deutsch. "This team does not give up."

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