College volleyball: West shocks Fergus Falls in five sets

BY AARON HAGEN The Globe WORTHINGTON -- It was a simple question posed to the Minnesota West volleyball team. Do you want it? And in Friday night's match against Fergus Falls, the answer was yes. Minnesota West avenged a heart-breaking five-set l...

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Minnesota West volleyball player Nichole Rowe (2) taps the ball past MState-Fergus Falls opponent Kassandra Algarate (11). (Aaron Hagen/The Globe)


The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- It was a simple question posed to the Minnesota West volleyball team.

Do you want it?

And in Friday night’s match against Fergus Falls, the answer was yes.


Minnesota West avenged a heart-breaking five-set loss earlier this season with a five-set victory on Friday night against the nation’s fourth-ranked team.

“Coach was asking, ‘Do you want it?’ When it comes down to a simple, ‘Do you want it?’ As a team, obviously we’re going to all push together, we’re going to get our energy back,” MW’s Andrea Hinkeldey said. “(Head coach) Marie (Johnson) and (assistant coach) Tina (Nickel) told us that we need to go out there and find energy and play as if those last ones didn’t matter, forget three and four and go out there and play how you know how to play.”

West took the first two sets, 25-18 and 25-17. However, Fergus Falls won the third and fourth, 25-21 and 25-16. In the match-deciding fifth set, the Lady Jays won 15-8.

“I don’t really know if the players realize the feat it is to beat Fergus Falls,” Johnson said. “They have a very good program and they are extremely solid this year and they have been in previous years. We don’t have a real great track record against Fergus Falls. We beat them a few times, but it’s still a huge thing to come away with a win. We definitely needed this win to help us to move forward.”

The last time the two teams played, Hinkeldey suffered an ankle injury in the fifth set, one that FF won 15-13. This time, Hinkeldey said she’s feeling better.

“It’s getting there,” said Hinkeldey, who finished with a team-best 14 kills. “It’s obviously still going to be tender, it's’ not been that long. Playing on it hasn't allowed it to heal as well as it should have. We’ll get it together. A little pain never kills nobody.’”

Friday was the final home matches for the sophomores on West’s team.

“It’s so sad. I wish I had more years. I love the girls and I love Marie and Tina,” said Nichole Rowe, one of the sophomores. “We’re having an amazing last season for our sophomores. It’s a fun year.”


Rowe finished with 13 kills and four blocks, while Katherin Ihnen had nine kills, three ace serves and three blocks. Emma Woelber and Hannah Neuman each had eight kills. Woelber had 35 set assists.

“I do what I can,” Woelber said. “Andrea Hinkeldey is so tough, but I have a lot of other tough hitters too. I really have to mix it up to other hitters because the blockers, they know that Andrea is going to have a big kill. But I also know I have Katherin and I have Hannah and Nichole and Joa (Ortiz). I have all these hitters, so I have to mix it up. That’s what a good offense is, mixing it up so the blocks don’t know where to go.”

Early on, that offense was clicking. West took a 5-4 lead off a Hinkeldey kill in Game 1 and never trailed. The second was more of the same as back-to-back kills from Hinkeldey and a block from Rowe gave MW a 15-7 advantage.

“The first and second set, we came out with a lot of energy,” Woelber said. “We always come to the school with a lot of energy. We are off the walls. We started really good and then I think in the third set we got overconfident. Like, ‘What is going on? They don’t play like this. This is a different Fergus Falls.’ We were just mind blown.”

The Lady Jays led 12-9 in the third game and looked destined for a sweep. But the Spartans had other ideas. They rallied to win the that game and used the momentum to take the fourth set as well.

“It was fun because we went to five with them in Fergus Falls and we lost in the fifth set. It was fun going back to five and beating them here at our home court,” Rowe said. “I think we had our energy up (in the first two sets). We started to slack there in the third and fourth set. We got our energy back in the fifth.”  

West jumped out to an 8-3 lead in the fifth set and pushed that lead to 12-5 after an Ihnen block and never looked back to knock off the Spartans.

“It was nerve-wracking,” Woelber said. “The third and fourth set, I didn’t know what was going to happen. But it was fun. After that fifth set, we went into the locker room and we were excited. I’m glad we pulled it off. Beating Fergus is always a big deal.”

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