PREP VOLLEYBALL: Second-seeded Eagles soar past Rebels, 3-0

LUVERNE -- Despite playing without its outstanding senior middle hitter Emily Bose, Murray County Central battled defending Class A state champion Windom to an exciting high school volleyball match Monday night in the semifinals of the Section 3A...

Windom's Ysker
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Windom's Courtney Ysker (2) hits between Murray County Central's Kristi Bose (14) and Alyssa Schmidt (5) during Monday's Section 3A volleyball match in Luverne.

LUVERNE -- Despite playing without its outstanding senior middle hitter Emily Bose, Murray County Central battled defending Class A state champion Windom to an exciting high school volleyball match Monday night in the semifinals of the Section 3A South tournament.

But, the second-seeded Eagles -- sparked by the spiking tandem of Courtney Ysker and MaKenzie Lovell -- prevailed in three sets, two of which were hotly-contested most of the way.

Game scores were 27-25, 25-17 and 25-19.

The victory advances Windom (23-5-1) to Thursday's South championship match at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall where the Eagles will tangle with fourth-seeded Southwest Christan. The first serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

"Our kids are just thrilled to be getting the chance to play at Marshall -- it's a big deal for them," Windom head coach Ron Wendorff exclaimed after the match. "I was really pleased with our effort in this match, as we won some big points and fought off all kinds of super efforts by MCC."


The Rebels, who took the Eagles to extra-points in Game 1 and rallied from a 12-8 deficit to a 15-all tie in Game 3, finish a fine season with a match record of 19-7.

MCC claimed the runner-up trophy in the 12-team Red Rock Conference with a sparkling 10-1 mark.

But the Rebels played all of those matches with the services of the tall (6-1) and athletic Bose, who has been of the area's premier front row players for years.

While making a dig in practice Oct. 28, Bose was struck in the eye by the deflected ball and the injury to her optic nerve sidelined the all-around MCC athlete for the section tournament.

The third-seeded Rebels were able to sweep Fulda Oct. 30 without her and advance to the semifinals -- and for much of the first set Monday, it appeared that MCC may be able to make the trip to Marshall.

"I just can't say enough nice things about MCC," praised Wendorff about the Rebels. "They hustled and scrapped, making play after play, as they battled us to a great match."

MCC head coach Donna Johansen was also pleased with her team's effort and performance.

"Our kids were determined to fight hard and they did," the veteran coach declared. "The girls all stepped it up, worked hard and played well. We were so close to winning that first game."


Rebels rally in Game 1, force extra-points

MCC, behind the early serving accuracy of sophomore Mackenzie Giese and the net play of 5-7 eighth-grader Kristi Bose -- Emily's cousin -- earned a 5-2 lead in Game 1.

After several exchanges, the scored was tied at 7-7 before a strong right-side kill by Windom senior Mikayla Bergendahl (six kills) gave the Eagles their first lead since sophomore setter Abby Hayenga (21 set assists, 12-for-12 serving, three aces) had opened the contest with a sizzling ace serve.

"Mikayla had some big hits for us and Abby distributed the ball very well," praised Wendorff. "Later in the match, Amber Eigenberg (four kills) had some timely hits that sparked us."

While the Eagles displayed some balance at the net, it was the thundering spikes of Ysker (18 kills, nine digs, 14-of-19 serving, five aces) and Lovell (12 kills, 12-of-14 serving, five aces) that kept the Rebels on the defensive numerous times in the match.

"Those two (Ysker and Lovell) hit the ball hard," said Johansen. "We were able to block them well at times, especially in the first set -- but Ysker really put some down as the match continued."

After a middle kill by Lovell put the Eagles up 9-7 in Game 1, MCC rallied with a 5-0 run to take a 12-9 advantage and force a timeout by Wendorff.

A dual block by senior Colleen Everson and freshman Macy Halbur highlighted that Rebel surge.


Several kills by Ysker helped the Eagles rally to a 15-all tie and the set stayed close to the finish.

A kill by Everson (five ace spikes, two ace blocks, one tip ace) lifted MCC to an 18-16 advantage, but Windom countered again and held a 24-22 edge -- but missed a serve, giving the Rebels a free point.

Halbur tied the set (24-24) with a tip through an Eagle block attempt and after the Rebels missed a serve, Giese tied things up again with a free ball (above the net) stuff that extended the set once more.

Windom claimed a two-point victory, however, as MCC hit two balls out-of-bounds.

"Winning that first game was huge," noted Wendorff. "We have been in some close battles before and I think that helped us here."

The second game was close until the Eagles stretched a 12-11 edge into a 20-12 lead with an 8-1 run, highlighted by the hitting of Ysker, Lovell and Eigenberg.

MCC rallied briefly, as Everson pounded a pair of kills and Halbur placed one just inside the back corner.

But the Eagles held on for an eight-point win.


Game 3 was highlighted by the hitting of Ysker as Windom opened up a 5-2 lead, and then Eigenberg -- a 5-5 sophomore -- put another kill to the floor, giving the Eagles a four-point lead.

Windom stayed ahead, but the Rebels chipped away and eventually tied the set at 14-all when setter Alyssa Schmidt (14 set assists, 9-of-11 serving, five points, one ace) took a set from Halbur and scored a kill for MCC.

With Windom holding a 16-15 edge, Bergendahl blasted down a free ball and Lovell delivered back-to-back ace serves, sparking the Eagles on a match-clinching 9-4 run to earn their trip to Marshall.

Amber Sebring had a team-high 10 digs for Windom, while Kaitlin Markl put up seven set assists.

MCC libero Elissa Reinsma came up with a match-high 16 digs, as she was on the receiving end of many Windom attacks.

"She's our digger," praised Johansen about Reinsma's efforts. "We can always count on her."

Giese (six kills) was a perfect 14-for-14 serving with eight points, while Kristi Bose was 10-of-12 with five points, including an ace.

Abby Van Meveren, Schmidt and Giese were all charted with a pair of ace blocks for the Rebels.


MCC's Giese
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Murray County Central's Makenzie Giese (2) hits past Windom's Mikayla Bergendahl during Monday night's volleyball match in Luverne.

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