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HL-O/F volleyball team clips Worthington in five sets

In a well-played five-set match, the Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda volleyball squad overcame Worthington Thursday night in Fulda

Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda Coyotes Marenna Bang (17) spikes the ball as Worthington's Tarren Spartz (12) makes the block in Fulda Thursday evening.
Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda Coyotes Marenna Bang (17) spikes the ball as Worthington's Tarren Spartz (12) makes the block in Fulda Thursday evening.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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FULDA -- In the season-opening volleyball match for both teams, Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat the visiting Worthington Trojans Thursday night at Fulda High School.

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The Coyotes won the first game 25-18, then lost the next two 23-25 and 15-25 before pulling out the fourth game 25-18. Their momentum continued in the decisive fifth in a 15-7 score.

Both teams played well. The plucky Coyotes displayed excellent court coverage throughout, and strong athleticism, too. The Trojans got impressive hitting from their tall front row led by 6-0 senior middle hitter Ellie Weg and 6-0 senior outside hitter Tarren Spartz, while junior setter Addison Gerber gave them good balls to swing at for the entire game.

Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda Coyotes celebrate taking the lead in the first set of the volleyball season opener against visiting Worthington Trojans Thursday evening (from left) Marissa Becker, Samantha Untiedt, Lili Nielsen, Anna Fest andMarenna Bang.
Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda celebrates a big point in the volleyball season opener against visiting Worthington Thursday. Pictured players are (from left) Marissa Becker, Samantha Untiedt, Lili Nielsen, Anna Fest and Marenna Bang.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

But in the concluding game, the Trojans finally ran out of steam. Confusion on the WHS side allowed an HL-O/F serve to fall unattended for a 10-6 Coyote lead. The score became 13-6 when a Worthington bump dropped inexplicably on the Trojans’ side of the net for another free point. A Worthington serve that flew too long gave HL-O/F its 14th point, and the 15th came on a WHS net violation.

“I think we carried the energy from the fourth set win. And we didn’t make mistakes,” said HL-O/F head coach Trista Rhubee. “We really pulled together strong, and we got some good senior leadership in the middle.”

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Senior Madelyn Schumacher had six kills for Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda while Samantha Untiedt, Marenna Bang and Marissa Becker each had five. Emma Rasche had 20 digs and Untiedt 14. Untiedt also was 18-for-18 serving with three aces along with 17 set assists. Bang had 20 set assists and Schumacher had two solo blocks and three block assists.

Worthington was scheduled to play in the Big South Conference Showcase Saturday (Aug. 27) in Marshall.

Worthington Trojans Head coach Courtney Opdahl celebrates a point with the Trojan bench during the volleyball season opener against HL-O/Fulda Coyotes Thursday evening in Fulda.
Worthington Trojans volleyball head coach Courtney Opdahl watches with the Trojan bench Thursday in Fulda.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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For Worthington, Weg and Spartz finished with 15 and 13 kills, respectively. Gerber was credited with 38 set assists and five ace serves.

Despite losing in the end, the Trojans looked like winners for much of the match. Until the fifth set, they moved well together, communicated well together, and gave a very talented HL-O/F team everything it could handle.

“We really couldn’t stop Ellie Weg in the middle, and Tarren Spartz on the side -- they kept us on our toes with the serve, too,” said Rhubee.

Worthington lost a few points on serves that went long, but they won a lot of points on serves, too.

In the fifth set, said WHS first-year head coach Courtney Opdahl, “I think we just lost a little bit of energy. It’s a long match. When you get to five, it comes down to the nitty-gritty.”

But she added, “We do have a lot of talent. This is a good start to our season, seeing what we can do and what we can tweak.”

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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