PREP VOLLEYBALL: Dragons beat Patriots

ADRIAN -- In a closely-played, highly-competitive Red Rock Conference high school volleyball match that featured a little bit of everything Tuesday night, the Adrian Dragons claimed a three-game sweep over the Hills-Beaver Creek Patriots by winni...

Vaske kills the ball past H-BC defenders
Jordan Willi/Daily Globe Adrian middle hitter Courtney Vaske smashes the ball for a kill in a volleyball match against Hills-Beaver Creek Tuesday in Adrian.

ADRIAN -- In a closely-played, highly-competitive Red Rock Conference high school volleyball match that featured a little bit of everything Tuesday night, the Adrian Dragons claimed a three-game sweep over the Hills-Beaver Creek Patriots by winning each set remarkably by two points apiece.

Final game scores were 25-23, 26-24 and 25-23 in favor of the Dragons, who improve to 5-5 overall and 1-1 in league play.

"This was an excellent match -- one that easily could have been a five-gamer or could have very well went our way in three sets," H-BC head coach Mary Jo Graphenteen said. "We had the lead at some point in all three sets, but we made a few key errors when the score was in the 20s each time and don't quite have that finishing instinct yet. We also don't have a go-to player at the net like Adrian does, and that was one of the differences in the final result."

Dragons Courtney Vaske (12 kills) and Kayla Lonneman (nine blocks) -- both senior middle hitters -- combined to wreak havoc at the net all night long and came up with lots of clutch plays when Adrian really needed them.

"Our play at the net -- especially defensively -- was one of the things that helped us come out on top in this one," Adrian head coach Cheryl Fey said. "Both Courtney and Kayla played outstanding in the middle for us, which was fun to see. Overall, we played steady and showed a lot of guts by winning three exciting games like that against a solid team."


Senior setter Rachel Kontz finished the match with 30 set assists and 14 digs to go along with four ace serves on a 19-for-20 performance from the line -- all team-bests for Adrian. Junior outside hitter Corie Reckamp charted 13 digs to round out the statistical leaders for the Dragons.

Senior middle hitter Meghan Leuthold (13-for-14 serving with five aces, three kills), senior setter Paige Leuthold (10-for-10 serving with two aces, 22 set assists), senior outside hitter Haley Van Wyhe (five kills), junior outside hitter Jessica Sandbulte (18 digs), sophomore middle hitter Hattie Van Wyhe (six kills, 27-for-29 on serve receive) and sophomore middle hitter Kelli Esselink (11-for-12 serving with an ace) topped the stat sheets for H-BC, which is now 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference.

Largest lead of the match is six points (20-14) in Game 1

There were a total of 12 lead changes and 24 ties spread across the 146 points that were scored in the thrilling match, as all three sets went right down to the wire.

The largest lead of the night belonged to Adrian in the first game, as the Dragons broke open an early back-and-forth affair (9-9 tie) with an 11-5 burst to earn a 20-14 advantage. A four-point service run by senior outside hitter Jenna Slater triggered Adrian's surge midway through.

Vaske hammered a trio of kills to help the Dragons gain some separation in that same span, while Reckamp also found the floor with a big hit from the left side.

However, H-BC rattled off six straight points to pull even at 20. A big kill in the middle by Esselink was followed by a five-point service run by Meghan Leuthold (three aces included), sparking the Patriots' comeback bid.

But plays at the net by Vaske, Lonneman, Reckamp and senior outside hitter Carly Wolf were enough to help Adrian hold off H-BC during the final eight side-outs, securing a 25-23 win for the Dragons.


H-BC, which held leads of 3-1, 4-2 and 8-7 early in the first game, again jumped on top in the second set. Meghan Leuthold and Haley Van Wyhe each knocked down two kills to spark the Patriots to a quick 8-4 lead.

Adrian, though, countered with a 7-0 spurt on the strength of a six-point service run by Kontz, who delivered a pair of aces and also set up Reckamp and Lonneman for kills in that stretch to put the Dragons ahead 11-8.

A kill by Hattie Van Wyhe put the brakes on Adrian's run, and H-BC worked back to a 15-14 lead after a kill from Meghan Leuthold and an ace serve by Paige Leuthold.

Consecutive tips in the middle by Vaske put the Dragons up 16-15, and Adrian never relinquished the lead -- although the Patriots tied things up five more times (at 17, 21, 22, 23 and 24) before the outcome was settled.

Lonneman recorded a couple of big ace blocks, Vaske put two kills down, and junior right-side hitter Bailey Grussing scored on a key tip in crunch time to aid the Dragons in clinching a 26-24 victory for a 2-0 match lead.

H-BC once again had an early edge in the third game, taking leads of 2-0, 5-2 and 8-4. An ace block by Esselink and an ace serve by Meghan Leuthold were among the plays that benefitted the Patriots out of the gate.

A back-row kill by Wolf, a tip by Grussing and an ace serve by Kontz then rallied the Dragons to a 9-8 lead.

Kills from both Van Wyhes -- Haley and Hattie -- gave the lead back to H-BC at 10-9, and the Patriots were slightly ahead for the majority of the next several side-outs.


Adrian, though, turned a 17-14 deficit into a 23-20 lead by outscoring H-BC 9-3 over a 12-point stretch. Reckamp fired back-to-back ace serves to cap that surge, as the Dragons looked to complete the sweep.

A kill by Hattie Van Wyhe helped bring H-BC to within one (24-23), but Reckamp then closed the door with a powerful kill from the back row -- wrapping up a 25-23 win for the Dragons.

Both teams play again on Thursday. Adrian travels to take on Mountain Lake Area, while H-BC is scheduled to host Westbrook-Walnut Grove.

SWU 3, PA 2

PIPESTONE -- The Southwestern United Wildcats took down the Pipestone Area Arrows in five sets Tuesday in Pipestone.

The Wildcats took the first game 25-19, but the Arrows fought back and won the next two games 30-28, 25-18. SWU wasn't done though, picking up wins in the last two games, 25-23, 15-13, to claim victory.

Amanda Haupert had 37 digs for the Arrows, while Taylor Kruisselbrink led the team in kills with 13. Also picking up kills were Megan Remund (9), Nicole Hollingsworth (8) and Aneka Bucher (7). Kelly Nettik also picked up 37 set assists for Pipestone on the night.

SWU was led by Courtney Place's team leading 27 kills, while teammate Sarah Baumgard helped out defensively with 21 digs. Also picking up kills were Alyssa Hendrickson (7) and Rachel Mathias (7)


SWC 3, MLA 0

MOUNTAIN LAKE -- Southwest Minnesota Christian swept Mountain Lake Area 25-11, 25-18 and 25-19 Tuesday in Mountain Lake.

Jennifer Schmidt went 15-for-16 on the serve with three aces for SWC, while Amber Pater led the team in kills with 16 and digs with 9. Morgan Van Hulzen picked up 9 kills along with two blocks, while Hannah Van Dyke helped out on defense with 33 set assists and eight digs.

Rachel Dukes had 23 set assists for MLA, while Janessa Peters smashed 14 kills. Jordan Syverson went 11-for-15 on the serve to go along with her three kills, while Mikayla Falk picked up eight digs for MLA.

MLA hosts Adrian Thursday, while SWC travels to Jeffers to face Red Rock Central Tuesday.

JCC 3, Mankato East 0

MANKATO -- Jackson County Central took down Makanto East in three games 25-17, 25-17 and 25-9.

Sydnee Donnelli was 9-for-10 on the serve with two aces, one block, 10 digs and 12 kills to lead JCC. Michelle Van Epps (8-for-9, one ace) also have a block to go along with seven digs and 40 set assists, while Kaylee Burmeister had eight digs and 15 kills. Kathryn Nasby picked up 10 digs, while Lydia Brandt and Shelby Benson both had five digs.


JCC travels to Marshall Thursday for a 7:15 p.m. game.

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