Section 3AA volleyball: JCC comes up short
Aaron Hagen Daily Globe WINDOM -- It wasn't the start the Jackson County Central volleyball team was hoping for. And it wasn't the finish it wanted either. The top-seeded Huskies battled back from an early hole, but came up short in a four-set lo...
WINDOM - It wasn’t the start the Jackson County Central volleyball team was hoping for.
And it wasn’t the finish it wanted either.
The top-seeded Huskies battled back from an early hole, but came up short in a four-set loss to second-seeded Martin County West in Thursday’s South Sub-Section 3AA championship.
“If we would have come out the way we’ve been practicing, it would have been a different story,” JCC head coach Deidre Wierson said. “We just came out slow. Defensively, they got us out of system. I just think it was an off night for us tonight. It was just a slower start for us and didn’t go the way we wished it would have went for us.”
Game scores were 25-21, 25-16, 18-25 and 26-24. The Mavericks advance to face Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta in the Section 3AA finals at 6 p.m. Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
“We don’t beat Jackson very often in volleyball,” MCW coach Travis Anderson said. “I think it’s been about eight years since we did in the regular season, so it feels awesome to win the sub-section against them.”
The two teams had met late in the regular season with the Huskies winning in five games.
“I think we’ve really improved in the last couple of weeks during practice and in that Jackson match, we had to learn a lot the first time,” Anderson said. “We tried to pick up on what they were doing in that match through video. We just played better.”
The Mavericks came out firing in the first set, taking an early 9-4 lead. A pair of kills by Sydney Nyborg (18 kills, 19 digs, 18-for-18 serving, three aces) brought the Huskies within three points. JCC hung around all game and were within a point, 21-20, late. But a pair of errors by the Huskies pushed the lead to three points as MCW closed out a four-point win.
The Huskies led 4-2 in the second set behind an ace serve by Abigail Brinkman (22 digs, 14-for-15 serving). A kill from Lauren Murphy (17 set assists, 14 digs) and a kill from Lacey Wacker (nine kills, 10 digs, 26 set assists) later pushed the lead to 7-5. However, the Mavericks answered with a 10-0 run that was capped with a kill by Reilly Geistfeld (17 kills, 10 digs, three ace serves) to lead 15-7. MCW closed out the second set with a 25-16 victory and led the match 2-0.
“We were serving aggressive enough to take them out of their offense a little bit,” Anderson said. “And on our side, passing the ball was a big deal so we could run our offense.”
Despite beginning the third set trailing 6-3, the Huskies battled back with three straight points to knot the score at 6. A few points later, JCC once again found itself in a hole, trailing 13-9. However, a pair of kills by Abby Benson (17 kills) started to chip away at the lead. A 7-1 run late in the game gave JCC the lead for good in a 25-18 victory.
“We talked about playing as a unit and playing together,” Wierson said. “Quit worrying about the mistakes you made, it’s a game of mistakes. Come around and play our tempo and our game. That seemed to work for us. I thought they played well. We knew it was going to be a battle tonight, its two great volleyball teams. We always talk about our section and how it is always a battle coming out of this section.”
The fourth set belonged to JCC early. A kill from Wacker, one from Benson and two from Nyborg had the Huskies ahead 6-2. JCC held the lead, and took a 20-12 advantage into the later parts of the fourth game.
But a kill from MCW’s Jordan Gregory (18 kills, 15 digs) started a 7-1 run that brought the Mavericks within two points, 21-19. The teams traded hitting errors, and a kill by Nyborg and a block from Tiara Menke (three kills, two blocks) gave JCC a 24-21 lead. That last point was elusive for the Huskies as Geistfeld had a kill and Ellie Kuehl (40 set assists) had an ace as the Mavericks finished the game on a 5-0 run to take the match.
“We just wanted to get some momentum on our side,” Anderson said. “We kept trying to get back into the groove on serve receive passing and taking care of the ball on the side. Down the stretch we were able to do that so they could make a couple mistakes and things could go our way. They just dig in. They do what they need to do in order to get the job done. You just have to believe at that point.”
The Huskies finish with a 21-11 record.
“We talked about that in the locker room, we said, ‘Be proud of what we accomplished this season,’” Wierson said. “We’re a young team and we’re going to be back next year even better and powerful. We’ll learn from this and continue to be positive and be happy for MCW, but obviously it hurts. We had a heck of a season, we really enjoyed being with each other and the chemistry was there. It just didn’t go our way tonight.”