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Prep volleyball: Marshall edges JCC in thrilling five-setter

MARSHALL -- The Tigers-Huskies high school volleyball match Thursday night forced both teams to trot out all they could muster. Marshall trotted out just a little more in a five-set thriller between two of southwest Minnesota's top teams. It was ...

JCC vs Marshall Volleyball 3 web.jpg
Jackson County Central's Alaina Wolff attempts to dump the ball over to Marshall Thursday night as the Tigers' Paige Andries (6) and Logan Sherman (1) defend. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)
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MARSHALL -- The Tigers-Huskies high school volleyball match Thursday night forced both teams to trot out all they could muster.

Marshall trotted out just a little more in a five-set thriller between two of southwest Minnesota’s top teams. It was a match of runs and counter-runs, and just when you thought one team was faltering, it climbed back to the forefront through grit and determination.

“Intense. Both teams tonight really proved how powerful we are, and how skilled we are,” said Jackson County Central head coach Deidre Wierson.

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Marshall, coming in with a 13-3 record and the No. 4 ranking in Minnesota Class AA, won the first game 25-20. JCC, coming in with a 15-3 record, won the second game 25-18 after trailing 8-4 in the early-going. Marshall seemed to take over in the third game, winning 25-12. But JCC, down 9-3 in the fourth game, came charging back to win 25-18.

Marshall took early control of the deciding fifth game and held it, winning 15-4.

“I said, ‘You guys, we gotta take care of the first contact. We gotta set and pass,” said Marshall coach Dan Westby afterward, describing the directions he gave to his quick, aggressive, offensively powerful and court-savvy Tigers.

The Tigers, as evidenced by their ranking, once again are recognized as one of Minnesota’s best high school teams. Their quick-strike attack, powerful and coming from all points along the net, is difficult for even the best rivals to withstand. They’re excellent at court coverage. They hardly ever let a loose ball drop.

But the Huskies were up to the task on Thursday. Behind a strong serving effort, the outstanding court leadership of junior outside hitter Alaina Wolff, and good blocking up front, they stayed with Marshall all the way. Perhaps most impressively, they were able to blunt Marshall’s force on two important occasions just when it seemed like the Tigers were about to run them off the court.

The first instance came in Game Two when, behind the serving of Wolff, impressive digging of MHS kill attempts, and strong net play, they rallied from 8-4 down to take a 16-11 lead.

Then, after Marshall controlled Game Three throughout and led 9-3 in Game Four, the Huskies recovered again. A key stretch occurred when Sadie Voss scored on an ace block for a 16-14 JCC lead, then teammate Alice Di Renzo made another ace block for 17-14, then Voss came through on an ace hit for 18-14. Marshall never recovered until the beginning of Game Five.

Wierson said the match should be proof to anyone who needs it that Jackson County Central can compete with anyone.

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“Unfortunately, we had too many errors at the wrong time that we couldn’t get out of, and they were rolling,” she added.

For his part, Westby applauded the Huskies’ effort.

“To JCC’s credit, especially in that second set, they put a lot of pressure on us,” he said. “But our kids were able to rally. And the fourth set was like the second.”

Marshall’s Paige Andries, still trying to recover fully from a recent injury, played sparingly on Thursday. But Bria Morris finished with 12 kills, and Jordyn Hilgemann had 10. Erica Jones and Rachel Schwarz had 19 digs apiece, with Schwarz adding 19 set assists. Hilgemann had six blocks.

Wolff was 22-for-22 serving with two aces while also getting 26 digs and six kills. Voss had four blocks, and Alicia Brandt, Di Renzo and Abby Buschena all had three. Brandt had 11 kills, Voss 10, Di Renzo seven and Kendall Kapplinger four. Grace Brinkman had 21 set assists.

 

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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