JCC sweeps Windom Area in South Section 3AA VB semifinal
JACKSON -- Going on a 16-1 run after trailing 12-2 in the second game of a South Section 3AA volleyball semifinal, the host Jackson County Central Huskies swept arch-rival Windom Area 3-0 on Tuesday, earning a showdown with top-seeded Marshall Thursday for the sub-section crown.
In a regular season match, Windom Area played exceptional volleyball en route to a 3-0 victory over JCC, but the Huskies turned the tables when it counted most, 25-19, 25-23, 25-19. Strong serving by 5-6 freshman Maci Farmer helped to energize the Huskies in the second game like turning on a switch.
“We didn’t play well when we played in Windom,” said JCC outside hitter Alaina Wolff, who had 16 kills and 11 digs in Tuesday night’s match. “So when we got the No. 2 seed and got to play in Jackson, we said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to play Jackson volleyball.”
For the most part, they did.
The second game was “huge,” said Huskies head coach Deidre Wierson.
“That’s like a huge momentum shift in the game. To have our serves working like that with Maci Farmer. We were really able to stay focused. We were running a really fast-paced offense. That makes the block get pulled and moved. That really was helpful for us as an offense, and as a defense they weren’t able to pick up our shots,” Wierson said.
JCC got out to the hot start in the first game, scrambling well, saving would-be Windom points with athletic moves, and hitting harder. An 18-6 JCC lead was cut to 21-16, however, before the home team put the Eagles away.
In the second game it was Windom Area’s turn to come out hot, as the Eagles mounted a well-coordinated, aggressive effort. Their outstanding 6-0 senior middle hitter, Katelyn Nichols, converted a pair of impressive hits to get the lead to 10 at 12-2. After the Huskies made their big run to lead 18-13, they allowed Windom to tie at 23-23, but a missed Windom serve and a missed Windom hit into the net let JCC score the last two points.
“They got one point, then they got two points, and they just kind of made a run on us,” said Nichols. “Sometimes it just gets away from us.
“They definitely made some plays like they haven’t made before. Being on their home court gave them an advantage. Some of their players stepped up, I think. They didn’t step up like that when we played ‘em in September.”
JCC jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead in the third game, which later became deadlocked at 12-12, 14-14 and 15-15. A scoring hit by Jordan Rogotzke, then an ace hit by Wolff made it 19-15. Windom Area got no closer. The final point was scored on a Wolff spike too hard to handle.
Wolff, the team’s leader and an honorable mention All-State player as a junior, agreed that her team’s second-game comeback was key.
“I’m just proud that we stayed focused and we didn’t get rattled in that tough situation,” she said. “We knew if we played our game, they would be the ones to eventually make a mistake, because volleyball is a game of errors. We weren’t freaking out (being down 12-2).”
Farmer was a perfect 18-for-18 serving for the match, and Rogotzke made 37 set assists. Sadie Voss added 14 kills and nine digs.
Nichols had 15 kills for Windom Area. Reegan Elder was 18-for-20 serving and Autumn Hauge was 14-for-15. Halle Jackson led the team with 17 set assists.
Windom Area, which finished the season 19-12, needed that second game, said coach Crystal Fast.
“We can do a lot of what ifs,” she explained. “The fact of the matter is that we have one rotation that isn’t that strong, and that was in that rotation.”
Thursday’s Marshall/JCC clash will begin at 7 p.m. at the Worthington High School gym.
“They don’t make too many errors,” Wierson said of the Tigers. “If we can control our controllables and continue to stay focused as a team, that’s going to be effective for us.”