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South Section 3A volleyball: Windom Area finds rhythm, tops MCC

WORTHINGTON -- On Halloween Night, it looked as if someone put a hex on the Windom Area Eagles. After the Eagles' big hitter, Porsha Porath, drilled two impressive ace hits to start the team's South Section 3A volleyball semifinal against Murray ...

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The Windom Area bench rises to celebrate taking the lead from Murray County Central in the first game of Tuesday's South Section 3A volleyball match in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- On Halloween Night, it looked as if someone put a hex on the Windom Area Eagles. After the Eagles’ big hitter, Porsha Porath, drilled two impressive ace hits to start the team’s South Section 3A volleyball semifinal against Murray County Central, they struggled for most of the first set.

Why? Head coach Ron Wendorff didn’t know.

“We’ve been coming out to good, solid starts. And I thought the first two points, here we go. But you gotta give Murray County Central a lot of credit,” said the veteran mentor.

Porath didn’t know either.

“I was confused, too. I’m like, ‘We’re playing the game, let’s go.’ I think we went away from the game plan of doing the little things right,” she said.

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After those first two points, the Eagles began to struggle with their serve receiving, their court coverage and their communication. They were inconsistent at the net. Meanwhile, the underdog Rebels operated like a well-oiled machine, moving out to an 18-6 lead before Windom Area got into a rhythm.

It wasn’t too late. Windom Area won the first game 27-25, then prevailed in the next two, 25-22 and 25-12, to sweep MCC three games to none.

Windom Area, the No. 2 seed of the tournament, will go against top-seeded Tracy-Milroy-Balaton in the championship game of South Section 3A Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall. Windom Area will be the underdog in that one, for sure. In both 2015 and 2016, T-M-B defeated WAHS for the sub-section title in straight sets.

Wendorff, however, is aiming high.

“That’s what Mr. Wendorff was saying to us in the locker room, ‘Why not us? Why not us? Why not us?’ And it’s so true,” said Porath.

For Murray County Central, the tournament’s No. 3 seed, there was nothing Tuesday to be upset about. Even after the Eagles found their game, the Rebels never relinquished theirs. They stayed in the second game to the end, fighting to an 18-18 tie after an ace block by 6-4 sophomore hitter Alyssa Groves and an ace hit by senior Riley Schmitz. In the third game Windom Area got off to a much better start as junior Becca Hacker served the first six points. The Rebels fell farther behind but refused to quit -- though they were unable to cut into Windom Area’s momentum.

“That’s kind of been a consistent struggle for us, to play to our potential all the time,” said MCC coach Kate Robinson. Windom Area, she said, “took advantage of our weak areas.”

“We just came out thinking, ‘They’re a tough team but we could do it,” said Groves. “We were just going to try to play together and do everything we could to put it down.”

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Porath had 19 kills in the match. Hacker, who Wendorff singled out for getting the Eagles’ momentum going in the first game, had seven kills, 27 set assists and was was 13-for-13 serving.

Katelyn Nichols had six solo blocks and Maurissa Isaacs added five. Mareah Carlson was 17-for-18 serving with three aces, Pigman was 15-for-15 with one ace and Porath was 12-for-12 with three aces.

Emily Steen had 12 digs.

Elise Rohrer had seven kills for MCC, Vittoria Mazzoni had six, and Schmitz and Groves both had five. Groves had four blocks while Schmitz and Mazzoni both had three. Tori Wieneke had three ace serves and Courtney Schmitz had 11 digs and Montana Beckmann 10.

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Murray County Central's Elise Rohrer (7) tips the volleyball over Windom Eagles rival Katelyn Nichols (1) Tuesday. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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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