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Prep volleyball: Adrian claws from behind to beat MCC

Adrian Dragons head coach Brittany Jackson and the bench erupt as Adrian takes a second close game against Murray County Central Thursday night. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)1 / 3
MCC's Brianna Schmitz (3) goes up toe-to-toe at the net with Adrian's Bailey Lonneman (12) as Mayssa Tweet spots the play in Adrian Thursday night. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)2 / 3
Adrian Dragon Miah Kunkel (11) tips the ball over the reach of MCC's Montana Beckmann (4) and Shelby Christensen (10). (Tim Middagh / The Globe)3 / 3

ADRIAN -- On Wednesday, the Adrian high school volleyball team achieved a No. 2 seed in the upcoming Section 3A tournament. On Thursday, the Dragons demonstrated their ability to fight back from deficits in a four-game win over visiting Murray County Central.

Trailing in all four games, the Dragons rallied to advance their regular season record to 18-1. Scores were 25-23, 25-23, 18-25, 25-21.

On a night where AHS played a football game with Canby just a couple of blocks from the school, the high school gym was nevertheless well-stocked with volleyball fans. They saw the home team win the first game despite trailing 20-14 late. Adrian won the second game, too, coming back from an 18-15 deficit. MCC led throughout the third game, this time hanging on to win. And the Rebels led 15-13 in the fourth game before finally succumbing to a determined Adrian rally.

How did the Dragons do it?

“The heart and the energy in the game,” said junior setter Kasie Tweet. “Our side always had the energy, and I think we got inside their heads a little bit. But it was definitely a hard-fought game. “We lost to Southwest Christian, and they beat ‘em. So we knew they were going to be tough. We knew it wasn’t gonna be easy.”

Adrian posted a 17-12 record in 2017 -- not bad, but nothing like the record they’ve compiled through the second week of October 2018. Tweet said the team greatly improved in the summer while participating together in a couple of camps and taking advantage of an open gym.

Head coach Brittany Jackson said the team’s togetherness, communication and resiliency showed Thursday night on the court.

“That’s the best thing about this team, that they can come together. They’re not afraid of anything,” she explained. “The defense, the covering of the floor, and the blocking has really changed our game.”

Tweet led the Dragons with 34 set assists. Miah Kunkel had 13 kills, Bailey Lonneman 11 and Avery Balster 10. Mayssa Tweet had 22 digs, Kunkel 19 and Kasie Tweet 14. Balster and Shawna Rogers both served at 100 percent.

Six-four middle hitter Alyssa Groves, whose hard and low spikes were the hardest for Adrian to defend, finished with 14 kills for the Rebels. Teammate Montana Beckmann had 13 kills.

Courtney Schmitz had 20 digs and Elise Rohrer had 17. Brianna Schmitz led the way with 21 set assists.

MCC played the match without libero Laney Brown, who sat out due to an injured wrist.

Rebels coach Kate DeLong said in many matches this year, her team has had to fight back from deficits, so having leads against the Dragons was a little bit unusual.

“That’s not been a common theme for us this year,” she said. “It’s a good mentality shift.”

Too many serving errors, she said, may have been the Rebels’ downfall Thursday night.

For the Dragons, pixie dust continues to blow their way.

“I don’t know the last time the girls have gotten seeded that high,” Jackson said about the team’s section ranking. “It’s probably a little more pressure, but just knowing that they’re getting the respect means a lot.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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