BLUE EARTH - Blue Earth Area remains undefeated atop the South Central Conference volleyball standings.
Krista Hassing produced match-best totals of 19 kills and eight ace blocks, Janessa Jahnke supplied seven kills and five rejections, while setter Monica Krieger distributed 27 assists and served 18 points to engineer the Bucs' 25-15, 25-13, 18-25, 25-14 league triumph over the St. Peter Saints on Tuesday night in Blue Earth.
"We're a work in progress and continue to grow with each match," said Blue Earth Area mentor Donna Nawrocki, whose lineup improved to a perfect 6-0 against SCC rivals and 11-2 overall.
KILL SHOT — Blue Earth Area hitter Janessa Jahnke smacks a kill against St. Peter as Buc teammate Audrey McDonald (2) looks on during South Central Conference volleyball action Tuesday night in Blue Earth. Courtesy of Kevin Mertens Photography
The Bucs also extended their lead in league play to two match victories by defeating the second-place Saints for the second time this season. St. Peter, who dropped to 4-2 in the SCC, battled Blue Earth Area to a five-game clash on Sept. 11 in St. Peter.
The net-smothering Hassing and hard-working Bucs, however, did not need a Game 5 on Tuesday night to exit the Blue Earth Area court with a winning decision.
Krieger, who connected on 22 of 24 serves on the four-game slugfest, literally set the league clash's tone by reeling off five consecutive service aces out of the leadoff spot in the Bucs' rotation.
St. Peter setter/hitter Tailor Raymond finally halted Krieger's incredible run by converting a Kirsten Makela set assist into one of her 10 kills for a much-needed sideout at 5-1.
Hassing then displayed her pogo-stick vertical leap by drilling a Krieger set to the floor to help fuel Audrey McDonald's mini-run to widen Blue Earth Area's edge to 9-1.
Once again, Raymond delivered a sideout for the Saints, lofting a tip just over the Bucs' frontline wall to regain possession temporarily.
Hassing's resounding rejection later triggered Jahnke's five-point service stint to create a double-digit lead at 18-7. Hassing alertly found the gaps in the Saints' defense with a pair of tips off of Krieger sets to fuel the run.
Blue Earth Area slowly extended its lead to 23-15 in Game 1 before St. Peter's errant serve allowed Megan Wirtjes to rotate into the lineup and serve out the Bucs' opening win.
Another Saint miscue from the service area during Game 2's early stages allowed McDonald to build a 6-1 margin for the Bucs. Whitney Pirsig recorded a block to serve as the surge's catalyst before Hassing crunched teammate Ashton Hendricksen's saving dig-turned-set to the floor to keep the momentum in the home team's direction.
Raymond later inched St. Peter within 9-7 via a three-point service stint, but a Saints' hitting error stymied the mini-run. Jahnke traded frontline firepower with 6-foot-2 Saints' middle hitter Olivia Hass to 15-10 before Jahnke's backrow blast off a Krieger set rotated Krieger to the line.
Krieger reeled off six unanswered points to shift the momentum and a commanding 21-10 lead to the Bucs. Hassing dominated the air space above the net, delivering two kills, one block and one precisely-placed tip.
Hendricksen's push shot for a sideout at 23-13 inched the home team within one point of a two-game lead before Pirsig unleashed a service ace to seal the deal.
Raymond's pivotal four-point service stint staked the Saints to an early 9-3 lead in Game 3 before teammate Mikayla Ogren served out the final three points of the visitors' 25-18 win. Hass hammered two of her nine kills to cap the final run.
Clinging to a 6-4 edge in Game 4, St. Peter sailed a serve over the baseline and Blue Earth Area capitalized quickly behind Pirsig's serving prowess. Pirsig assembled a four-point run, with Jahnke delivering a kill and a block, to create breathing room for the Bucs at 11-4.
The two SCC titans slugged it out to 15-11 before Hassing cranked a blistering sideout kill off a Pirsig set to rotate Hassing to the service line.
Hassing put the game out of reach by delivering six straight points, including three sizzling aces, to extend the lead to 22-11. Jahnke contributed two quick kills and a rejection to the pivotal point production.
Krieger then caught the Saints' defense by surprise on a perfectly-placed ace tip, with Hendricksen at the line, to cap the Bucs' 25-14 Game 4 win and 3-1 match victory.
Jahnke topped the Blue Earth Area defense by making 19 digs, Krieger scooped up 16 spikes, while Hassing and Pirsig chipped in 11 digs each.
Blue Earth Area (11-2, 6-0 SCC) travels to St. James on Thursday night, while St. Peter (6-4-3, 4-2) plays host to Waseca.