NORTHROP - The Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain Knights battled to a fifth game against the St. Clair Cyclones during Valley Conference volleyball action on Tuesday in Northrop.
"I told our bus driver on the way here that it would probably be a five-game match," said St. Clair head coach Brandon Greiner.
After the teams had traded back-to-back wins through the first four games, the Cyclones were able to take the final edge to earn the 22-25, 25-14, 22-25, 25-16, 15-10 win.
FIELDING THE SPIKE — Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s Amber Schulz digs up a spike as teammates Megan Schock (middle) and Alexis Brummond look on during Valley Conference volleyball action Tuesday night in Northrop. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Knights' setter Hunter Payne sent a set to Danielle Schreader for the tip to take the 1-0 lead in the fifth game.
Amber Schulz sent an attack attempt into the net, evening the score at 1-1.
A pair of ace serves for Cyclone senior Julia Day gave the visitors a 3-1 advantage, before Payne and Schreader connected for a rally ending spike.
The Cyclones rallied again, starting with a blast off the hand of Kate Karels on one of Abby Drummer's 24 set assists.
A miss hit on the Knights, coupled with an ace serve by Hailey Embacher, put the Cyclones up 6-3.
St. Clair answered every Knights' rally in the final game, holding the lead throughout.
"Volleyball is a game of streaks. It is all about momentum and scoring runs for both teams," said Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain head coach Paul Steinhaus. "Tonight was a perfect example. We were two close teams and we traded streaks back-and-forth until the final game."
With her team trailing 10-7, Payne sizzled an ace off the outstretched arms of the Cyclones defenders to cut the deficit to 10-8.
Payne and Kristi Oberdieck tried to connect for a kill to help the home team get within one, but the spike just sailed past the end line.
Embacher, who tallied 10 kills for the Cyclones, recorded a critical one at the 11-8 juncture, sending a Knights floating pass over the net to the floor.
Thanks to a net serve by the Cyclones and Schreader's crafty knuckleball over the net, the Knights were within two points of evening the game at 12-10.
Day and Karels stalled that thinking, scoring the final three points that the Cyclones needed to win.
Day smacked a Drummer assist off the outstretched hands of Oberdieck at the net, before Karels sent a Knights pass over the net and down to make it 14-10.
Day, who served the final two points, ended the surge for the win with an ace.
The Knights jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the beginning of the match, as Oberdieck and Rachel Shumski made easy work by recording three kills each in the opening game.
The game was tied 10-10 after Payne tipped the ball down on the St. Clair side for a kill.
Oberdieck and Payne then connected for two of Oberdieck's four kills, catching the Cyclone defense off guard.
"We are learning and we are improving every game. Tonight was a good chance for us to work on things and get better," said Steinhaus. "It comes down to executing and being able to play consistently throughout a match. There were glimpses of some good offense, but we still need to make improvements so we can be on the winning side of these games."
Shumski then proved her quickness when she and Amber Schulz teamed up for a block on one of Karels' swings.
Shumski finished the match with six kills, while Schulz added four.
Alexis Brummond, who blasted one of Payne's 14 set assists from the back row for a kill in the first game, finished with a team-leading 16 digs. Brummond's kill also gave the Knights a 20-18 edge nearing the end of the first game.
Payne added 15 digs for the Knights defense, along with Megan Schock and Schulz who added eight and six digs, respectively.
Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain (1-7, 0-2 Valley) plays host to Alden-Conger in a 7:30 p.m. conference game on Thursday in Northrop.
St. Clair (1-4, 1-1 Valley) hosts Madelia in a conference game at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in St. Clair.
Martin County West 3, Alden-Conger 1 - The Mavericks needed four games to beat the Knights, 25-14, 25-18, 19-25, 25-23, on Tuesday in Alden.
Kate Thiesse produced 10 kills, three blocks, eight digs and three ace serves to lead MCW's winning effort.
McKenna Taylor smacked a team-leading 12 kills and made four blocks, while Reilly Geistfeld recorded eight kills for the Mavericks.
Jordan Gregory tallied seven digs, seven kills and two ace serves to add to the Mavericks' balanced offense.
Kennedy Janssen doled out 30 set assists and made four digs for the Mavericks.
Molly Klima and Autumn Smith backstopped the Maverick defense, recording five and six digs, respectively.
Smith also added four ace serves, with Haley Jensen adding four digs. Ellie Kuehl distributed four set assists.
Martin County West (6-1, 1-0 Valley) hosts Truman in a Valley Conference match at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Trimont.
Truman 3, Maple River 1 - The Bluejays outlasted the Eagles, 18-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-20, in Valley Conference volleyball action Tuesday in Truman.
Emily Zaharia recorded a team-leading 11 kills, in addition to five blocks, 26 digs and three ace serves to lead the Bluejays' winning effort.
Alexis Jahnz added 10 kills and 22 digs to go along with her two ace serves for Truman.
Sarah Schwanz had a pair of ace serves and made 10 digs for the Bluejays.
Truman's Hanna Hartman tallied seven kills and sizzled one ace serve, while Cydney Kilian smacked two ace serves and distributed 32 set assists to the Bluejays' winning ways.
Truman (2-5, 1-1 Valley) travels to play Martin County West in a Valley Conference game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night in Trimont.
St. Peter 3, Blue Earth Area 0 - The Saints blanked the Bucs, 25-4, 25-10, 25-13, in a South Central Conference match on Tuesday in St. Peter.
No individual statistics were reported.
Blue Earth Area (2-7, 0-2 SCC) travels to New Ulm on Thursday night.