Tigers cage Huskies, 3-1

REDWOOD FALLS -- With both teams fighting for every single point in Thursday night's Section 3AA volleyball semifinal, it was the Marshall Tigers who came out with a 3-1 victory over the Jackson County Central Huskies.

Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Jackson County Central's Whitney Burmeister (3) attempts to hit past the blocks of Marshall's Dani Beekman (14) and Danielle Gladis (11) during Thursday's Section 3AA playoff match in Redwood Falls.

REDWOOD FALLS -- With both teams fighting for every single point in Thursday night's Section 3AA volleyball semifinal, it was the Marshall Tigers who came out with a 3-1 victory over the Jackson County Central Huskies.

"I knew Marshall was going to be a tough match," JCC head coach Teresa VanEpps said. "We believed all season long that we were a state-contending team. We knew we had to get past Marshall in order to get to that point."

Marshall took another step toward defending its state title with a 25-20, 28-26, 19-25, 25-18 victory.

"It was really a hard-fought match on both sides of the net," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said.

"I thought both teams really played hard. It was fun volleyball to watch. We knew coming in that they play hard. We scouted them seven times this year, so we knew what they were all about, and we certainly have a lot of respect for JCC."


With both teams playing scrappy defensively, it was the play of Marshall's Shay Birath and Kayla Wallerich that proved the difference in the first two games.

"I thought Shay Birath and Kayla Wallerich both made a number of incredible defensive plays, especially in the first two games," Westby said. "They really saved us."

Despite the two defenders diving all over the court, making incredible saves, the JCC offense continued to attack.

"I thought in Games 1 and 2 we made a number of great defensive plays," Westby said. "They kind of turned the tables on us in Games 3 and 4 and gave us a taste of our own medicine. I thought they really defended well as the match went on."

Behind an ace from Karli Vandeputte and a kill from Rachel Westby (10 kills), the Tigers jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first game.

However, just like they would do all night, the Huskies battled back.

Marshall never trailed in the first game, but was never able to open up a large lead.

Marshall had a 22-16 lead late in the game after a JCC attack error, but Mollie McClure (three kills) had a block and Briel Henderickson (15 kills, 24 digs) followed with an ace as the Huskies cut the deficit to three points, 22-19 -- forcing a Marshall timeout.


From there, the Tigers never looked back as Wallerich (16 set assists, seven kills) put the finishing touches on a 25-20 Tiger victory.

In an epic Game 2, it was the Huskies who opened up an early 4-1 lead behind a tip from Brooke Burmeister (14 kills, 23 digs).

The Tigers began a comeback that concluded with a kill from Wallerich after a spectacular save by the Marshall defense.

Taking a 10-9 lead on that play, Marshall took a 20-17 lead late in the game.

However, the Huskies were not going quietly.

Burmeister scored on a tip, and later, a pair of aces from Stacey Schuller tied the game at 22-all.

The teams continued to trade points back and forth until a kill from Danielle Gladis (five kills) and a JCC attack error gave the Tigers a 28-26 victory.

"That was a game that we needed," VanEpps said. "Unfortunately, we didn't take that. However, the girls came out hard in that third game, and they played with intensity and scrapped for every ball."


Needing a win in Game 3 to extend the match, JCC fell behind early, 3-0.

An ace from Burmeister tied the game at 4-all in the early going, and the game was later tied at 7 before Marshall made its move.

The Tigers ran off four straight points, giving them an 11-7 lead and forcing a JCC timeout.

"There was a timeout that I took, and I believe it was the first timeout, and I told them that we are taking this game," VanEpps said. "I said, 'Believe it, know it, own it from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head; positive stuff needs to omit from your body.' They went out on the court and Marshall missed a serve and had two hitting errors, and boom, we're right back in it."

Marshall scored the first point out of the timeout to increase the lead to five points, but from there, JCC took over.

"It was either go hard or go home," Burmeister said. "All or nothing. Coach really talked to us and said that she believed in us, and it took off from there."

The Tigers had a service error that allowed the Huskies to begin their comeback.

A lift call on Marshall tied the score at 14-all, and a tip from McClure later knotted the score at 15.


From there, Marshall had a quartet of mistakes and Burmeister had a kill as the Huskies went on a 7-0 run to take a 21-15 lead.

"It kind of started when we had a couple of service errors and then we had a difficult time hitting the ball," Westby said. "I think we went through a stretch where we lost some confidence hitting and we started thinking too much. We kind of lost confidence in our skills at that point. But, give JCC credit, they put some pressure on us."

JCC never looked back in a 25-19 victory.

"We came out and struggled a little in the beginning, but we finished hard, Burmeister said. "We really picked up our game in the third game and kind of slacked off at the end of the fourth. But overall, we had an amazing season."

Marshall opened up a 4-1 lead in the fourth game, but after a kill from Whitney Burmeister (eight kills), the Huskies tied the game a 4-all.

Hope Weilage (nine kills, two blocks) had a pair of kills as the Tigers went on a 3-0 run to open up the lead.

JCC tied the score at 8-all, but kills from Weilage and Dani Beekman (five kills) gave the Tigers the lead for good.

"The fourth game, we came out and got down 3-1 right away and just kind of battled back and forth and never capitalized on that last one," VanEpps said.


A pair of kills by Hendrickson brought JCC back within three points (16-13) late in the game, and an ace from Chelsey Mitchell cut the deficit to two points, 17-15, but that would be as close as JCC would get in a 25-18 loss.

Marshall will continue on the tournament trail Saturday when it will face Yellow Medicine East.

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