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HL-O/F volleyball team's high-intensity effort pays off again

The Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda high school volleyball squad swept MLA/C 3-0 on Thursday to move to 16-8 on the season

Heron Lake-Okabena /Fulda's Marenna Bang (17) slams a spike past Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey defenders Michala Morin (4) and Kearney Wall (13) as the Coyotes' Samantha Untiedt (10) and Marissa Becker (11) watch the play unfold Thursday night in Okabena.
Heron Lake-Okabena /Fulda's Marenna Bang (17) slams a spike past Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey defenders Michala Morin (4) and Kearney Wall (13) as the Coyotes' Samantha Untiedt (10) and Marissa Becker (11) watch the play unfold Thursday night in Okabena.
Tim Middagh/The Globe
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OKABENA -- Trista Rhubee likes her volleyball team. Her volleyball players like volleyball -- a lot. Their talent shows on the court.

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“Things are going really good,” Coach Rhubee testified of her squad Thursday night after a Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda sweep over Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey 25-21, 25-10, 25-13. “It’s nice to have the full team back. We had a couple of ankle injuries early in the season, and the girls still stayed strong. The girls have shown really good leadership and positive attitudes.”

Playing in an area of Minnesota that’s imbedded with many outstanding high school volleyball teams, the Coyotes have already achieved regular season victories against highly-regarded local rivals Jackson County Central and Windom Area, and they put together a solid effort Sept. 23 and 24 in a Burnsville tournament that included Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, the No. 1-ranked Class A team in the state.

Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda libero Emma Rasche puts the serve from Mountain Lake-Comfrey Wolverines to the setter as teammate Lili Nielsen (9) cheers her on during Thursday's match in Okabena
Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda libero Emma Rasche puts the serve from Mountain Lake-Comfrey to the setter as teammate Lili Nielsen (9) cheers her on Thursday.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

HL-O/F resides in Section 3A. Besides R-T-R, the section includes No. 3-ranked Minneota and No. 8-ranked MACCRAY. Last year the Coyotes played deep into the section tournament, and Rhubee said that when the 2022 season started the girls were already talking about making another deep run.

In Thursday’s match with MLA/C, the Coyotes’ Sam Untiedt accounted for nine kills and 17 set assists. Madi Schumacher had seven kills. Lili Nielsen was 15-for-16 serving with four aces. Marenna Bang was 16-for-16 from the service line with one ace, and she also had 18 set assists. Emma Rasche had 14 digs.

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Thursday’s victory moved HL-O/F to 16-8 on the season.

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Rhubee said the Coyotes communicate well together on the floor and have fun. Sometimes when mistakes are made, the energy wanes for a moment, but before long the team goes right back at it.

“The girls have to go for every ball, hit the floor for the ball. It only comes from a high-intensity effort,” said Rhubee.

If there’s a special quality that sets HL-O/F apart from average teams, it may be their wealth of hitters. “We spread out our offense. We have very talented, aggressive hitters all over. … The setters spread out the offense. We mix it up and it keeps the other side of the net on their toes. They don’t know where the attack is coming from,” said Rhubee, who also praised the team’s “scrappy” defense.

HL-O/F’s next game is Tuesday against Adrian/Ellsworth in Fulda.

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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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