NEW ULM - Libbie Lange received a doctor's clearance Thursday to compete in the Section 2A, South Sub-Section volleyball championship match after being involved in an auto mishap.
Lange, however, left opposing Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial not feeling so well after the 5-foot-11 middle hitter cranked match-leading marks of 11 kills and five blocks to power the Martin County West Mavericks to a 25-15, 25-20, 25-19 sweep over the Knights at New Ulm High School's gymnasium.
Martin County West (22-9-1), the South Sub-Section champion, advances to face North Sub-Section winner BOLD (17-11) at 6 p.m. Saturday night in the Section 2A championship match at the Lund Center on the Gustavus Adolphus College campus in St. Peter for a bid to the Class A state tournament.
BLURRED BLAST — Martin County West hitter Taryn Tumbleson (12) elevates to crank a blurred blast over Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial’s Megan Schroeder and Chloe Lantz during Thursday’s Section 2A, South Sub-Section volleyball final in New Ulm. The Mavericks’ Libbie Lange and Hailey Leiding (4) watch the action. Photo by Leanna Becker
BOLD, the No. 2 seed in the North Sub-Section, upended top-seeded Springfield, 26-24, 19-25, 26-24, 25-14, to gain the sectional finale.
"Teamwork, energy and believing in themselves," Maverick mentor Mary Sussenguth replied when asked what factors proved the difference between Thursday night's sub-section sweep and her lineup's 3-2 regular-season loss to the South Sub-Section's top-seeded Knights (23-8) on Sept. 20.
"Consistency throughout the entire match was the real key to winning tonight," Sussenguth added.
Lange appeared to be a model of good health by pounding down a pair of early spike-winners off two of setter Morgan Williamson's match-leading 30 assists to trigger the Mavericks' early 6-2 margin in Game 1.
Outside hitter Megan Schroeder countered for the Knights with back-to-back kills off a pair of Sami Sorenson set assists to trim the gap to 6-4, but a foot fault infraction on LCWM stemmed the tide.
Freshman outside spiker Jordan Gregory and sophomore hitter Hailey Leiding then delivered stinging winners down both the left and right sides, respectively, to quickly double MCW's advantage to 10-5 with Taryn Tumbleson at the service line.
Gregory, who was a perfect 16 of 16 serving with nine points, extended the blue-and-black attack's lead with back-to-back service winners before Lange and Tumbleson literally threw a block party to put the final outcome out of reach.
Tumbleson and Lange combined on an echoing double-block to create a sideout before Williamson pushed the lead to 22-11 with three service points. Lange registered back-to-back thundering rejections before Tumbleson zipped home a lightning-fast kill to ignite the run.
Katie Vetch served LCWM within 22-15 with a three-point stint from the baseline before Lange smacked a pivotal sideout kill to rotate Tumbleson to the line. Tumbleson scorched a line-drive service ace before Lange found the floor untouched on a tip for Point 25.
Middle hitter Kate Thiesse quickly erased the Mavericks' early 8-6 deficit in Game 2 by pounding down six of her eight kills on the match.
Thiesse's frontline firepower, with Gregory at the line, drew MCW even on the scoreboard at 10-all and the middle game stayed close until Gregory's sizzling sideout spike off a Williamson set at 15-13.
Molly Klima then created breathing room for the Mavericks via a four-point service run as Thiesse drilled bookend kills around Leiding's right-side blast.
Once again, Lange's kill off a Kennedy Janssen set assist marked the prelude to the end of Game 2. Lange's sideout spike supplied Point 24 before Williamson served out the 25-20 victory.
Gregory then got the scoreboard rolling skyward out of the leadoff spot in the Mavericks' Game 3 service rotation before Tumbleson unleashed a momentum-turning five-point stint at the line en route to a 12-5 margin.
Lange, Leiding and Gregory delivered the damage from above the net before LCWM chipped away at the lead behind Sorenson's tipping, setting and serving. Sorenson whittled the Knights' deficit to 17-16 only to watch Tumbleson smack down an ace kill to halt LCWM's comeback.
Thiesse chalked up three critical service points to extend the Mavericks' edge to 21-16 before Tumbleson and Lange later polished off the three-game sweep. Tumbleson rocketed a vapor-trail sideout kill for Point 24 before Lange punched down an ace kill off a Williamson set to secure the final tally.
Lange's 11-kill, five-block performance topped a balanced Maverick attack, while Thiesse and Tumbleson pounded down eight spike-winners each. Gregory and Leiding packed solid spiking punch with six and five kills, respectively.
Tumbleson tallied 10 points on 13-for-14 serving, while Gregory and Williamson contributed nine service points each for Martin County West.