BLUE EARTH - Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial first-year head coach Tracy Schmidt started her season undefeated as the Knights rolled past the Blue Earth Area Bucs, 25-12, 25-5, 25-16, in nonconference volleyball action on Tuesday night in Blue Earth.
"We are all about team volleyball, all of our players are role players and do what we need the team to do," said Schmidt. "Tonight it was all about our passing. The offense and everything we were able to do was because of that."
The Knights took control of the match from the start, tearing off four straight points.
DIGGIN’ IT UP — Blue Earth Area’s Nicole Krinke (right) digs up a spike as teammate Audrey McDonald moves in to help out on the play during season-opening volleyball action Tuesday night in Blue Earth. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Samantha Sorenson, who had a team-leading 15 set assists, tallied her first helper as she set Abby Friedrichs to take a 2-0 lead.
The Knights recorded another point off a double block courtesy of Marissa Larsen and McKenzie Schaffer at the net, before Schaffer pounded the first of her six kills in the match to make it 4-0.
Bucs' junior Devyn Braunshausen showed some life for the home team as it trailed 11-4 before she rotated to the service line.
Nicole Krinke generated a kill with a perfectly-placed pass over the net, reducing the Bucs' deficit to 11-6.
Blue Earth Area then held on to win a long rally and with the help of an ace serve from Braunshausen, made it 11-7.
Despite one of Haley Resutek's nine digs that extended the next point, the Knights halted the Bucs' run at 12-7.
"We knew coming in that they would be a strong team, and they were. We lost quite a bit, and you can't replace players like that. But we are improving and building each day," said Blue Earth Area head coach Donna Nawrocki. "Tonight I think we had a lot of nerves, but we also could have played better."
Friedrichs showed her versatility later in the first game for the Knights, going on a four-point run from the service line.
The senior served up two of her six aces in the match to stake a 20-11 lead for the Knights.
After taking advantage of a Bucs' attack that sailed long, McKenzie Schaffer connected with Sorenson for a score to make it 22-11.
Friedrichs' roll ended when she sailed a serve out of bounds, giving the Bucs a chance to extend the game.
Unfortunately for Blue Earth Area, a passing error gave the ball back to the Knights and they closed out the game with a 25-12 victory.
The Knights took a quick 25-5 Game 2 victory, but the Bucs roared back in the third.
Trailing 22-14 in the final game, a Knights passing error rotated the Bucs' Audrey McDonald, who went 8-for-9 serving, back to the service line.
Blue Earth Area then crept back into the game. First, with a tip off the fingers of Krinke, who had eight set assists and seven digs. Mariah Twedt then blocked a Sorenson attack down the line to make it 22-16.
"I thought there was more life in our third game tonight," said Nawrocki. "We are looking at different lineups and rotations, and we will probaby continue to do that until we find a combination where players feel comfortable."
Braunshausen tried to extend the Bucs' scoring rally with the help of a hard-hit Krinke set, but Sorenson and Elyse Lubbers combined for a Knights' double block to take back the serve at 23-16.
The Knights then closed out the final two points to take the 25-16 win.
"With our lack of experience and changing where players are at, we are looking for leaders on the floor," said Nawrocki. "We didn't have that tonight, but this game is a building block in the right direction."
McKenzie Schaffer had a match-leading six kills for the Knights, while Sorenson and Kori Schaffer added five and four, respectively.
McDonald finished with five kills and nine digs for the Bucs.
Blue Earth Area (0-1) travels to Le Sueur-Henderson for a nonconference game at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Le Sueur.
Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (1-0) plays host to United South Central in a 7:30 p.m. nonconference game next Tuesday.
Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 3, Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain 0 - The host Knights blanked the Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain Knights, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18, in a nonconference volleyball match on Tuesday in Sleepy Eye.
Rachel Shumski smacked six kills and recorded nine blocks for the visiting Knights, while teammate Kristi Oberdieck added five blocks.
Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain (1-1) hosts Sleepy Eye Public in a 7:30 p.m. game on Thursday in Northrop.
Sleepy Eye Public 3, Truman 1 - The Indians clipped the Bluejays, 25-19, 26-28, 25-14, 25-23, in nonconference volleyball action on Tuesday in Sleepy Eye.
Emily Zaharia pounded 12 kills, served seven aces, and made three blocks and 22 digs for the Bluejays.
Hanna Hartman sizzled six kills, made three blocks and served two aces, while Alexis Jahnz had three kills and made 29 digs.
Cydney Kilian recorded 25 set assists along with nine digs and three ace serves for Truman.
Sarah Schwanz and Stephanie Jahnz tallied 14 and 24 digs, respectively.
Truman (0-1) travels to Mountain Lake Area next Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. nonconference game.