BLUE EARTH - Windom Area head coach Ron Wendorff had an inkling that his Eagle volleyball players might get off to a slow start against Blue Earth Area on Monday night.
"You really don't know how they're going to react on the first day back to school after a long layoff," Wendorff said in reference to the four-day Education Minnesota break.
Windom Area managed to survive Blue Earth Area senior Audrey McDonald's back-to-back service aces that inched the Bucs within 24-23 in Game 1 of the nonconference regular-season clash in Blue Earth.
DIGGIN’ IT UP — Blue Earth Area’s Rena Zierke digs up a hard Windom Area spike as Buc teammates Ciarra Olson (11) and Audrey McDonald (2) watch during nonconference regular-season volleyball action Monday night in Blue Earth. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Outside hitter Rachel Sorensen delivered the game-winning point out of a timeout before producing 13 points behind 17-for-17 serving to complement five kills to rally the Eagles to an eventual 25-23, 25-11, 25-9 sweep over the Bucs.
"Rachel really got us going with her nine points from the service line during the second game," said Wendorff.
While Sorensen proved the top point producer from the service area on the match, McDonald kept Blue Earth Area within striking distance throughout the opening game.
After an errant Eagle serve, McDonald rotated to the end line and reeled off three consecutive winners, with teammate Nicole Krinke delivering a block, to narrow the Bucs' gap to 11-9.
Windom Area setter Miki Bolin, who distributed a match-best 22 assists, then utilized back-to-back ace tips to create separation on the scoreboard at 16-10.
Ciarra Olson, however, sparked Blue Earth Area's comeback bid by smacking down an Eagle overpass to trigger Mariah Twedt's mini 3-0 run to whittle Windom Area's lead to 17-16.
Trailing 24-20 on the heels of a hitting error, the Bucs converted Olson's kill and back-to-back McDonald service aces to reduce their deficit to 24-23 in the opener.
Sorensen, however, utilized her vertical jump and converted a perfect Bolin loft into the game-winning point at 25-23.
Middle hitter Porsha Porath's ace kill later created a sideout for the Eagles at 6-3 in Game 2. Sorensen stepped to the line and reeled off nine unanswered points, including a string of three aces, to build an insurmountable 15-3 lead.
McDonald pounded out a back-row kill off one of Krinke's seven set assists to temporarily halt Windom Area's avalanche of points.
Alyssa Fast later assembled a three-point service run to inch the Eagles within one of a Game 2 win at 24-8 en route to a 25-11 victory.
With Game 3 tied at 3-all, once again, Sorensen delivered the pivotal service run to shift the momentum in Windom Area's direction for good.
Sorensen served up a four-point run, Bolin jump-served four more, libero Jasmine Carlson tacked on four points and Fast added four to widen the gap to 22-6.
After a Buc hitting error at 23-9, Madison Maras stepped to the service area and delivered the final two Eagle points to seal the three-game sweep.
Kelsey Hanefeld generated six kills to top Windom Area's balanced offense, Michaela Hacker and Sorensen tallied five kills each, while Porath added four spike-winners.
McDonald generated 10 points on 16-for-17 serving for the Bucs to complement a team-best five kills, while Analicia Swanson and Ciarra Olson supplied three kills each.
Blue Earth Area (3-21) opens Section 2AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action against Waterville-Elysian-Morristown at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Waterville.
Windom Area (16-10) opens Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action by playing host to St. Clair at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Windom.
Section 2A Playoffs
Mountain Lake Area 3, Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain 2 - The No. 7-seeded Wolverines outlasted the No. 10-seeded Knights in a five-game slugfest, 27-29, 25-13, 16-25, 25-15, 15-9, Monday night during first-round sub-section action in Mountain Lake.
Mountain Lake Area (8-12) advances to face No. 2-seeded Lake Crystal- Wellcome Memorial (24-4) in a 7 p.m. Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal match on Thursday night in Lake Crystal.
Martin Luther/GHEC ended its season with a 5-17-3 record.
Middle hitter Kristi Oberdieck produced nine kills and eight blocks to top the Knights' effort, Rachel Shumski generated seven kills and five blocks, while setter Hunter Payne distributed 21 assists on the match.
St. Clair 3, Truman 0 - The No. 6-seeded Cyclones twisted past the No. 11-seeded Bluejays, 25-12, 25-17, 26-24, during first-round sub-section action Monday night in St. Clair.
St. Clair (12-15) advances to face No. 3-seeded Windom Area (16-10) at 7 p.m. Thursday night in a Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal in Windom.
Truman ended its season with a 3-22-1 mark.
Alexis Jahnz tallied four kills and 11 digs to help pace Truman, while Emily Zaharia delivered three kills, 17 digs and one block.
Cydney Kilian doled out 15 set assists to go with two service aces for the Bluejays, while Hanna Hartman notched three kills and one service ace.
Savannah Hodge made six digs to go with two service aces for Truman, Stephanie Jahnz collected eight digs, while Courtney Zaharia added three kills and one service ace.