WORTHINGTON -- The Minnesota West volleyball team showed off its hitters here Wednesday night.
“We were more aggressive than normal, and that really helped,” outside hitter Kennedy Buckneberg said after the Lady Jays defeated the Riverland Community College Blue Devils 3-0 in a conference match.
“We all did our part,” Buckneberg said. “We were good in the back row, we were good in the front row and our serving was great. And that really changes the game.”
The Lady Jays won the match by scores of 25-23, 25-14, 26-24.
Riverland coach Jaime Meyer said Buckneberg, who finished with 11 kills, was a force. And she had some help.
“(Buckneberg) always hits really nice and their right sides (Caralis Ramos especially) were killing us tonight,” Meyer said.
Shelby Christensen finished with six kills and teammate Emily Wilke added five as Minnesota West improved to 2-3 in league play and 5-4 overall. Riverland fell to 0-3 and 3-5.
The Riverland coach was impressed with the Lady Jays.
“Their team as a whole knows how to play some ball, and that’s pretty awesome,” Meyer said.
The match was close, as was the first meetings between the squads earlier this month in Austin. Minnesota West won that one, a five-set marathon, by scores of 25-10, 16-25, 26-24, 20-25, 15-8.
On Wednesday, there wasn’t much separating the teams once again. Buckneberg’s kill finished a 25-23 victory. The last five Lady Jays’ points included sharp spikes for points by Christensen, the former Murray County Central star, and Dannyn Peterson.
“Our kills were definitely spread out more than they normally are,” said Minnesota West coach Brittney McNab. “Our outsides went six (Christensen) and 11 (Buckneberg) and our right sides were five (Ramos) and four (Peterson). Also, our setting was much more consistent.”
Taya Mason had 20 set assists and Emma Keith had eight.
Buckneberg contributed three solid kills as the Jays won the second game, 25-14.
“She’s very consistent,” McNab said. “Her kill percentage was very high.”
Christensen contributed mightily with several kills, nice serves and solid defense in the clinching third game.
“She can pick up a lot in the back row,” McNab. “Very consistent also.”
Ramos had a key spike and Emily Dunlop contributed some solid serving late as the Jays won the clinching Game 3, 26-24.
Riverland received some fine play from hitter Sydney Taylor. The Blue Devils played without standout hitter Lexi Gerber, who ranks among the Minnesota College Athletic Conference in hitting percentage. The Lady Jays were also without a key player, as Mallory Thorson was out for COVID-19 reasons. Thorson, a former Luverne star and standout hitter, is expected to play in West’s next match.
This is Homecoming weekend at Minnesota West. The Lady Jays play host to Century College on Friday night 6:30 and take on Anoka-Ramsey Saturday morning at 11.
“We need to win these games at home, because the month of October they’re all away,” Buckneberg said. “These games really matter right now.”