FAIRMONT - The Jackson County Central volleyball team did not look like it had been idle for the last nine days when the Huskies stepped onto Cardinal Gym on Monday night.
Hitters Kaylee Burmeister and Lydia Brandt each pounded out a dozen kills, while setter Michelle VanEpps distributed a match-best 34 assists to pace Class 2A, No. 6-ranked JCC's 25-10, 25-13, 25-12 non-league sweep of the Fairmont Cardinals.
So, how did the Huskies hone their hitting skills and perfect their passing since losing a 2-1 decision to Class 1A, No. 3-ranked Minneota in the JCC Invitational on Sept. 15?
DIGGIN’ IT — Fairmont’s Nicole Fedder makes a dig and passes the volleyball forward during nonconference action Monday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Photo by Leanna Becker
"Frenzy drills. That's what I've had them doing in practice to stay sharp during the recent long layoff," said Huskies mentor Teresa VanEpps. "I picked them up from Terry Culhane at SMSU (Southwest Minnesota State University)."
"They are the one drill that the players hate and I love," Teresa VanEpps said with a smile. "The drills are all about talking and hustling. They really make you work on communicating with your teammates and covering the floor."
Ahead 9-6 in Game 1, JCC middle hitter Jasmine Erickson pounded down a jumpset from Michelle VanEpps before rotating to the service area.
Erickson reeled off four winners, including an ace combined with Sydney Nyborg's block, to force Fairmont to call timeout at 14-6.
Cardinal mentor Brad Haugen's strategy paid dividends in the form of a service error, but it did not take long for Burmeister to create a double-digit margin from the service area.
Brandt's left-handed spike for a sideout rotated Burmeister to the back row and the sophomore spiker smacked four consecutive winners for a 21-8 edge.
Kenna Bannister, who contributed a kill to Burmeister's service stint, quickly smacked a VanEpps' set to the floor for a sideout.
Libero Kathryn Nasby then served out the final three points for the 25-10 Game 1 victory, with Erickson and Brandt hammering home the last two tallies.
Despite Burmeister's string of three sideout lasers in a row in Game 2, JCC could not create separation on the scoreboard. The trio of Kayla Lardy, Kristen Campe and Emily Kim countered with a pair of tips and/or kills each to keep Fairmont within striking distance at 12-9.
VanEpps, however, delivered a perfectly-timed and precisely-placed tip to rotate herself to the line at 13-9.
The Huskies' senior playmaker then assembled an incredible nine-point run - with Burmeister delivering the majority of the offensive firepower at the net - to put the Cardinals in a 22-9 deficit.
Campe's tip halted the run momentarily as Brandt later drilled the game-winning point to seal the 25-13 Game 2 decision.
Burmeister's offspeed ace tip just over the Fairmont blockers triggered JCC's eight-point surge midway through Game 3.
Erickson stepped to the backline and reeled off the eight straight winners as sophomore middle hitter Sarah Brandt generated three kills to help build the 18-4 lead.
Paige Bearson unleashed an echoing kill off an Elizabeth Kim set to end the Huskies' offensive avalanche before Lardy recorded two of her three blocks and two of her six kills to inch the Cardinals into double figures.
VanEpps and Erickson then combined on a resounding rejection to close the door on the Huskies' three-game sweep.
Fairmont (5-7, 3-2 South Central) travels to New Ulm on Thursday night, while JCC (10-4) plays host to Windom Area.
JCC produced a 25-14, 25-19 victory over Fairmont during B-squad action Monday.
Jessica Bicknase served at a 12-for-13 clips with three aces for the Cardinals, while Morgan Seifried was 9 of 9 serving for three aces. Courtney Mosloski chipped in four digs, while Tieryn Arens had three kills.
JCC downed Fairmont, 25-11, 25-20, 12-15, during C-squad action Monday.
Alyssa Westcott was 7-for-7 serving, distributed nine set assists and had five spikes for the Cardinals, while Brice Bonin contributed six spikes and seven set assists.