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Prep volleyball: Trojans rally to nip Southwest Christian in five

WORTHINGTON -- If "communication" isn't Jessica Hogan's favorite word during the volleyball season, it's close. Thursday night, communication flowed as Hogan's Worthington Trojans rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat visiting Southwest Minne...

 

WORTHINGTON -- If “communication” isn’t Jessica Hogan’s favorite word during the volleyball season, it’s close.

Thursday night, communication flowed as Hogan’s Worthington Trojans rallied back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat visiting Southwest Minnesota Christian 3-2 in a high school volleyball game at the WHS gym. The Trojans -- with several new players gracing the varsity roster in 2017 -- started slowly this year, looking out of sync at times in a road loss to Heron Lake-Okabena. With Thursday’s win, however, they won their third straight. Court flow was good, communication was better. They served at 92 percent. And they made some big shots when it really mattered.

“We grew as the match went on, and we’ve been growing since the season began,” said Hogan. “It’s fun to see them mature before our eyes, and I give the credit to our leadership. The senior leadership is what does it.”

Southwest won the first game 25-18, Worthington won the second 27-25 after trailing 24-18 at one point. Southwest won the third, 25-21. But Worthington won games four and five 25-12 and 15-11.

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The fifth and final game was tied 7-7. But the Trojans’ floor leader, senior all-conference performer Anneke Weg, served a couple of points to give her team a 9-7 edge. Moments later, sophomore Payton Sauerbrei served three more points (and covered the floor nicely on defense) to make it 13-8. A mis-hit on the front line by the Eagles clinched the win.

The 5-6 Sauerbrei played an outstanding match, putting 31 of 31 serves in play for 22 points. She also had nine digs.

“It takes a lot of focus to do that, and she’s a level-headed player. She was in a groove, and it was definitely a big key to our win,” Hogan said.

Teammate Stephie Bauman was 16-for-16 serving with eight points, and Anna Meyer was 14-for-15 with eight points and three aces.

“It’s not just about getting it in. At this level if you don’t serve it hard, they’re going to score points on you. You gotta serve tough,” added Hogan.

Emma Thuringer led the Trojans with 11 kills along with four blocks and 12 digs. Weg had 17 set assists. Bauman had seven digs.

Worthington scored nine of the final 10 points to win Game Two, but the Trojans had to rally after being outscored 21-8 after taking a 10-3 early lead.

Southwest Christian bounced back in Game Three, however, and after a 21-21 tie senior setter Olivia Veldkamp served three points to close it out.

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In Game Four, WHS came out smoking as Sauerbrei opened with a 10-point serving run. The Eagles never recovered, and though it was back-and-forth early in the fifth set, the Trojans were able to celebrate in the end.

“The key to our runs was our movement and our defense,” said Hogan. “They’re getting better every day. The pieces are coming together. I’m happy where we’re at.”

Southwest Christian, performing in just its second match this season, was led by senior Brooklyn DeKam in the hitting department, with 15 kills. Jazlynn Prins added nine kills with 18 digs. Bella Niemeyer had seven blocks. Veldkamp contributed seven assists.

Veteran Southwest Christian coach Brian Busker said mental fatigue may have been a struggle for his Eagles, but he was happy how well they competed.

“We were just competing the whole way. We had some nice long rallies. Pushing it to the fifth game is always very good for the fans.”

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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