FAIRMONT - Setter/hitter Sydney Griffin and outside spiker Kenzie Beekman earned all-Minnesota Class AA state tournament honors in helping guide the Marshall Tigers to the state volleyball championship last fall.
Griffin and Beekman, a pair of 6-foot-1 juniors, continued their hard-hitting ways in engineering the Class AA No. 1-ranked Tigers' 25-8, 25-14, 25-18 nonconference sweep over the Fairmont Cardinals on Tuesday night in Fairmont.
"As good as advertised," Cardinal mentor Brad Haugen said in reference to the defending state champions.
KILL?SHOT — Fairmont’s Tori Edgington (17) drills a kill shot as teammates Paige Bearson (back right), Kersten Shantz (front right) and Kayla Lardy (16) look on during nonconference volleyball action Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Photo by Leeanna Becker
"Sydney definitely had one of her better hitting nights tonight," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said in reference to Griffin's match-best 14 kills that complemented her 12 set assists.
"Beekman hasn't been feeling too well lately, but she still did a nice job of hitting for us despite being sick," Westby said in reference to Beekman's 10-kill performance.
Despite a pair of early Beekman spike-winners in the opening game, Paige Bearson and Kayla Lardy reversed the scoring trend in Fairmont's favor during the initial stages.
Lardy, who delivered five kills on the match, tipped home an ace off of one of setter Emily Kim's team-leading 11 assists for a key sideout trailing 3-1.
Bearson, who topped the Cardinals' effort with six kills and six points behind 10-for-11 serving, reeled off four unanswered points to swing a 5-3 edge to the hometown lineup.
Beekman and Griffin, however, had other plans. The Griffin-to-Beekman combination produced an echoing cross-court kill for a sideout, and backrow specialist Rachel Sanow shifted the momentum in Marshall's direction with a three-point service stint.
Kersten Shantz's sideout kill off an Emily Kim set later inched Fairmont within three at 10-7, but Griffin jackhammered one of Sanow's 13 set assists to the floor for the pivotal sideout spike.
Hannah Bennett, who went 17-for-17 on the match at the line, reeled off 11 unanswered points to build a 22-7 lead for the Tigers. Griffin unleashed six scorching kills to ignite the double-digit scoring run before Emily Kim converted Elizabeth Kim's assist for a sideout.
Griffin smacked down a Sanow set to regain possession before serving out the final two points for a 25-8 Game 1 victory.
Lardy and Bearson then exchanged spike-winners with Marshall's Emma Doyle and Beekman to 11-all in the middle game before Sanow warmed up the scoreboard from the service area.
Beekman's blast off a Griffin loft rotated Sanow into the lineup and the backrow specialist reeled off seven straight points to put the game out of reach at 18-11.
Griffin controlled the air space above the net down the stretch, generating four kills, including the Game 2 winner off another Sanow set for a 25-14 decision.
Bearson, Kristen Campe and Lardy traded spike-winners with Beekman and Griffin during the early stages of Game 3 before Angela Tauer proved the Tigers' catalyst from the service line.
Tauer assembled a momentum-shifting five-point stint to create breathing room on the scoreboard for Marshall at 15-7.
Bearson and Tori Edgington hammered away near the nets, but the Tigers proved too strong in the end en route to a 25-18 Game 3 victory.
Sanow and Hannah Bennett each generated 13 points behind 14-for-18 and 17-for-17 serving, respectively.
Emily Kim distributed 11 set assists for the Cardinals, Elizabeth Kim doled out seven helpers, while Campe chipped in four kills.
Fairmont (0-2) plays host to New Ulm on Thursday night, while Marshall (3-0) plays host to a 32-team invitational Friday and Saturday.
Marshall downed Fairmont, 25-15, 25-12, during B-squad action Tuesday in Fairmont.
Emily Kim distributed six set assists for the Cardinals, Haley Harder drilled four kills, Tieryn Arens produced two kills and two blocks, while Michaela Twitchell delivered two kills.
Marshall defeated Fairmont in C-squad action, 25-7, 25-12, 25-16, Tuesday in Fairmont.
Payton Walser connected on 9 of 9 serves to top the Cardinals.
Madelia 3, Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 0 - Setter Emily Hoehler doled out 19 set assists and generated four serving aces to guide the Blackhawks to a 25-12, 25-20, 25-21 nonconference victory the Bulldogs on Tuesday night in Madelia.
Haley Reed recorded 10 kills and 14 digs for Madelia, while teammate Kayla McCabe added a team-best 17 digs in the win.
Brianna Firchau and Sarah Haynes each delivered eight kills in the match, while Firchau tacked on four blocks and Haynes supplied two rejections.
Madelia (2-0) travels to Sleepy Eye for tournament action on Saturday.
Mountain Lake Area 3, Truman 1 - The Wolverines defeated the Bluejays, 22-25, 25-10, 25-16, 25-13, during a non-league match Tuesday night in Truman.
Emily Zaharia recorded eight kills, eight digs and one solo block to lead Truman's effort.
Savannah Stevens generated five kills, four ace serves, four digs and one block for the Bluejays in the effort.
Hanna Hartman and Emma Wiederhoeft produced four kills to the offense, while Alexis Jahnz added three kills.
Cheyanne Hodge doled out six set assists, while Stephanie Jahnz distributed three assists in the match.
Hodge and Alexis Jahnz each had six digs for the hometown's defense.
Truman (0-2) travels to Mapleton on Thursday night for a 7:30 p.m. Valley Conference match against Maple River.