PREP VOLLEYBALL: SWC topples top-seeded Quasars, 3-1
LUVERNE -- Kara Van Dyke doesn't even think about it anymore. Van Dyke, Jenni and Jada Vander Veen form a front line that sports three players six-feet or taller for the Southwest Christian volleyball team. That height gave Southwest Star Concept...
LUVERNE -- Kara Van Dyke doesn't even think about it anymore.
Van Dyke, Jenni and Jada Vander Veen form a front line that sports three players six-feet or taller for the Southwest Christian volleyball team.
That height gave Southwest Star Concept fits Monday as SWC avenged a regular-season loss with a 3-1 victory in the Section 3A playoffs.
"Southwest Christian made the adjustments and they came ready to play," SSC head coach Crystal Fast said. "When you have a front-row line of 6-foot, that's hard to get around."
Jada Vander Veen finished with 18 kills, while Van Dyke added 12 in a 25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20 victory.
"We're just used to it," Van Dyke said of the height advantage. "We've been playing together since freshman year. I just don't realize it anymore."
But the Quasars were well aware of what they were up against.
"We knew going in that we'd have to go around them blocking wise or we'd be in trouble," Fast said. "We tried to make those adjustments, but then they made their adjustments on their block and their defense."
Van Dyke finished with four blocks, Jenni Vander Veen had three and Morgan Spronk added two for the Eagles, who will face Windom on Thursday in the section semifinals.
"We just played really well," Van Dyke said. "We went into it knowing it was going to be a tough game. Everyone kept talking and moving. We were focused."
The two faced each other on Sept. 24, with SSC winning in four games.
"We weren't really sure how it would go," Van Dyke said. "Last time we played them we didn't play our best and we've improved a lot since then.
"Last time our serve receive got us. But we're playing as a team better."
For Fast and the Quasars, the first game felt like déjà vu.
SSC, which entered on a 19-match winning streak, battled back and forth with SWC, and behind an ace block by Katey Granstra (11 kills, three blocks), tied Game 1 at 11.
A kill by Raisa Bonatto (12-for-14 serving, one ace) gave SSC a 14-12 advantage, but SWC scored eight of the next 10 points to take a 20-17 advantage en route to a 25-19 victory.
"During the regular season we also dropped the first game which was the exact same score, 19-25," Fast said. "I just told the girls after Game 1 that we knew it was going to be a battle. We knew going into it that it wouldn't be a 3-0 sweep on either team's part."
The Quasars (25-5) made sure there wasn't going to be a sweep Monday.
A block by Erika Post (six blocks, three ace blocks, eight kills, 23 digs) sent SSC to an early lead in Game 2.
That lead increased to as much as six points (10-4), before SWC made its comeback.
"We came out to an 8-3 lead and then we let them back into the game," Fast said. "That's one thing we struggled with was keeping leads and finishing strong and making sure that we take care of the ball on our side of the net."
The Eagles had a slight lead, 14-13, before SSC's Ashley Bartosh (10 digs) put away a free ball to give SSC a 19-14 lead.
Tied again at 20, Quasar Jennifer Schmidt (four blocks, four kills) had a key kill to lead SSC to a 25-22 Game 2 victory.
SSC again had a lead in Game 3, and again, SWC mounted a comeback.
Leading 9-3 after a tip by Post, the Quasars looked to be making a strong run to a 2-1 advantage in the match.
However, the Eagles continued to chip away at the lead. Kayla Broekhuis (33 set assists) had a tip to cut the deficit to 20-19 and three points later, the game was tied at 21-all.
Kelsey DeKam (20 points, two ace serves, 22 digs) had an ace serve to break the tie as SWC went on to a 25-23 victory.
The Eagles jumped out to an early lead in Game 4 and led 7-3 -- forcing a SSC timeout.
Out of the break, the Quasars went on an 8-4 run, tying the game at 11.
An ace by SSC's Luanna Henkels (25 set assists, 20-for-21 serving, 13 points, four aces) gave the Quasars a short-lived lead at 15-14, but the score would quickly be tied at 15.
Enter Van Dyke.
The 6-1 senior had a pair of blocks and a trio of kills giving SWC a 20-17 advantage.
Maddie Collin (four kills, 16-for-17 serving, eight points) and Henkels each had a kill late in the match, but Jada Vander Veen (five aces) scored the final three points, sending SWC to a 25-20 victory.
"We lost to a good team," Fast said. "Southwest Christian is big. We knew going into it that it would be a battle; they had it out for us since we beat them during the regular season. We just didn't do the little things right. We had a lot of net violations, which isn't us."
Bria Baumgard had a team-high 26 digs for SSC, while Amanda Bartosh had 11.
The Eagles will face Windom, which swept Murray County Central, Thursday night at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
"We have to play as a team and talk," Van Dyke said. "We have to keep our heads up and not get down. That usually gets us, too."