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JCC tops Luverne, faces Paynesville for Section 3AA volleyball crown

The Jackson County Central High School volleyball program hasn’t been to state in 18 years, but after sweeping Luverne Thursday night for the South Section 3AA championship, the Huskies can almost taste it already.

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WORTHINGTON -- The Jackson County Central High School volleyball program hasn’t been to state in 18 years, but after sweeping Luverne Thursday night for the South Section 3AA championship, the Huskies can almost taste it already.

If the top seed from the south can overcome the top seed from the north, Paynesville Area, on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, they’ll have accomplished their goal from Day 1 of the 2021 season.

The Huskies, ranked No. 2 in Class AA volleyball, defeated three sub-section opponents nine sets to none through Thursday. Paynesville Area did the same.

“We’ve never played them before,” said JCC head coach Deidre Wierson after her girls bested Luverne 25-18, 25-20, 25-21 at the Worthington High School gymnasium. “They have a really nice outside hitter. We really need to serve for points when she’s not in the front row.”

Perhaps the Huskies don’t need to be overly concerned with a rival hitter. They’ve got several top-notch hitters themselves, led by 5-10 senior Sadie Voss, who led all players Thursday with 20 kills. The Huskies do everything else well, too, and they’re about as confident as can be right now.

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In the regular season, Luverne played a strong match against Jackson County Central in a four-setter. LHS head coach Sarah DeBeer hoped that in the sectionals, her Cardinals would take the next step. But though Luverne made several runs, the Huskies were able to blunt every one.

“The struggle was probably just the whole aura of us playing Jackson,” DeBeer said. “Going into this one I thought we were going to do the same thing (as last time). It’s Jackson, And it’s kind of like when you play Marshall. … It’s just too bad we didn’t give them more of a run.”

With Class AAA Marshall and Class AA JCC now separated by classification, the big, bad Tigers aren’t able to intimidate as many southwest Minnesota rivals come section tournament time. It may not happen that JCC can intimidate Paynesville Area, but that’s OK. The Huskies just want to win.

“It’s tough competition. But we can handle ‘em,” said junior setter Maci Farmer.

If there was a single moment that captured the athleticism and desire of the Huskies on Thursday, it probably happened in the first set when Farmer left her feet for an incredible diving over-the-back save near the bleacher area that eventually became a JCC point. That put the Huskies ahead 21-16 and, duly energized, they eased to victory.

Luverne fought hard in the second set as its top two hitters, Elise Farrell and Christina Wagner, made some impressive hits for points. That was also the set where Voss, who never lets an opportunity go to waste, pounded bullets.

Still determined, Luverne led 6-3 in the third set, scoring in a variety of ways. The LHS lead became 16-10 before JCC’s Elese Paplow ran off six straight serving points for a 17-16 JCC advantage. From there, the Huskies were able to keep the Cardinals at bay.

Along with her 20 kills, Voss collected nine digs. Emma Haren had six kills and two blocks, and she was 15-for-17 serving with five aces. Farmer had 27 set assists and 14 digs. Peyton Hanson had four blocks and five kills. And Georgianna Wenzel had four blocks and nine digs while putting nine of 10 serves in play with one ace.

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Farrell had 11 kills for Luverne while Wagner had six and Trista Baustian four. Reghan Bork had 12 set assists while Baustian had 10. Macy Stratton had 10 digs. Wagner was credited with one solo block and three assists.

“It was a battle tonight,” Wierson said. “I think they did a nice job of picking out spots that were open. Credit to our team, too, to find the open spots. I think defensively we did a really nice job. Elese Paplow came in and served aggressively to hold them out of system and help us get that third set.”

“We came in and we just wanted to start strong,” said Farmer. “Once we started blocking, they were going to just start tipping. And we just had to cover those tips well, and that got us into our game.”

No matter how confident she feels before a match, Voss admitted that she still has butterflies on the day of a big showdown.

“I was nervous. My stomach was hurting all day. I was so excited,” she said. “They took a set from us last time. They had deep serves and got us out of our system. We knew we had to pass well and get our first contacts done.

“We didn’t let the ball drop,” Voss continued. “We were really scrappy on defense.”

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALL
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