Minnesota West falls short

WORTHINGTON -- In an epic battle between two closely matched teams, it was the Fergus Falls Spartans who came away with a five-game victory Wednesday night in a Southern Division volleyball match.

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Miknnesota West sophomore Kristi Winter digs a Fergus Falls serve during Wednesday night volleyball action in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- In an epic battle between two closely matched teams, it was the Fergus Falls Spartans who came away with a five-game victory Wednesday night in a Southern Division volleyball match.

"It was disappointing because I thought we were the better team," Minnesota West head coach Janet Haren said. "I think we deserved to win, and we didn't. Sometimes you just have to rebound."

In a crucial match with playoff implications for the Lady Jays (10-18, 3-6), it was the Spartans (10-12, 2-6) who came away with the 15-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 15-8 victory.

"We never gave up," MSCTC-Fergus Falls head coach Terri Strom said. "We came through in some tough situations with our serves. I thought our offense had a lot more motion, which created a lot of one-on-one opportunities for our outsides."

Outside hitter CaliAnne Rittenour had 18 kills to lead the Spartans, while Nicole Carrison and Deveny Moore each had nine kills.


"I've told the girls all season that we just have to play our game," Strom said. "We have some tremendous hitters and we try to go with a balanced attack, so it kind of keeps them out of sync. I thought we did a great job of being unpredictable. You never knew who was going to get the ball."

In the early going, it was the Minnesota West block that was giving the FF offense struggles.

"Our blocking was pretty good," Haren said. "I thought towards the end when they pulled their sets off the net, we could have delayed them a little bit and maybe taken that away a little bit. Overall, I thought we did a good job."

The Lady Jays opened up a 14-11 lead in the first game, and with back-to-back blocks from Amanda Murray and Meghan Cronberg, opened up a 16-11 lead. Rachel Pavelko added a point on a tip, pushing the lead to six points -- forcing a FF timeout.

"It seemed like the first two games we were hitting the ball right into their block," Strom said. "It was like they knew exactly what we were going to do before we could do it. Halfway through Game 3 and through the rest of the match we had a lot more movement to our hitters and we were able to create some one-on-ones."

MW would open up as much as an eight-point lead late in the game off an ace from Kiah Vik as the Lady Jays cruised to a 25-15 Game 1 victory.

FF jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the beginning of the second game, only to watch MW climb back into the contest.

A Spartan attack error tied the game at 3-all, but FF went on a 12-6 run to open up a 15-9 lead.


A pair of blocks from Ally Rotert and a tip from Pavelko brought the Lady Jays back within one, 15-14.

Later in the game, MW tied the score at 18-all, and after an ace from Pavelko, had a 19-18 lead. However, that would be the first and the last lead for the Lady Jays in the game as FF went on to a 25-22 victory.

Behind a block from Kayla Wichern, the Lady Jays had a 13-7 lead in the second game, and increased the lead to 15-8.

FF battled back, and on a hit from Linsey Strom, tied the game at 17-all.

"We picked up a lot of balls in the third and fourth games," Terri Strom said. "Our defense did an insane job of being really scrappy. We also did a good job of reading their power hitters and kind of anticipating where they were going to be. We did a good job of blocking and anticipating their offense."

With the score tied at 20-all, MW scored five of the next eight points in a 25-23 victory.

A kill from Carrison gave FF a 1-0 lead in the fourth game, and the Spartans never trailed in a 25-16 victory to force a match-deciding fifth game.

Behind the serving of Rittenour (two aces), FF jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the fifth game.


"I think we just got mad," Strom said of the fifth game. "We were so frustrated at things we couldn't control. We finally just got mad and played like our hair was on fire. We maybe didn't think quite so much and just ran our offense. We anticipated a little bit more, but I think we just played our game."

An ace from Kristi Winter and a kill and block from Cronberg cut the deficit to 11-6.

"I thought we played a little scared," Haren said. "We looked like we didn't want the ball; but hopefully, in this kind of match everybody wants the ball."

MW cut the lead to five points late in the game, 13-8, but kills from Haley Frost (seven kills, three blocks) and Carrison put the finishing touches on a FF victory.

"We did do a good job of preventing runs," Haren said. "A lot of the match was point-for-point. I think the difference was that when you strung two or three together that was just enough."

MW will travel to Ridgewater Wednesday in a must-win match for the Lady Jays and their playoff hopes.

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