TRIMONT - Hailey Leiding's cross-court spikes got the wheels turning on the Martin County West volleyball express before Kate Thiesse's blocking and Molly Klima's serving fueled a runaway playoff victory on Thursday night.
Klima generated 24 service points, Thiesse produced 12 kills and eight blocks, Leiding unleashed 11 kills, while setter Kennedy Janssen distributed 26 assists to engineer the Mavericks' 25-14, 25-12, 25-5 sweep over the Madelia Blackhawks in Trimont.
No. 1-seeded Martin County West (23-6) advances to play No. 4-seeded United South Central (14-13) at 6 p.m. Tuesday night in a Section 2A, South Sub-Section semifinal clash at St. James High School. The Rebels gained the next round via a 17-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-22 over No. 5-seeded Alden-Conger.
LINE OF DEFENSE — Martin County West’s Haley Jensen (middle) passes the volleyball forward during Section 2A, South Sub-Section quarterfinal playoff action Thursday night in Trimont. Maverick teammates Molly Klima (17) and Autumn Smith look on. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
No. 9-seeded Madelia ended its season with a 9-22 record.
"We changed our rotation a little bit tonight and gave them a different look," said Maverick mentor Mary Sussenguth.
Despite a slightly-altered lineup, the bottom line remained the same - the blue-and-black attack stoked its frontline firepower by the fourth overall rotation of the opening game and steamrolled to victory.
The Blackhawks, however, seized the match's early momentum behind Cinthia Sotelo's game-opening kill and teammate Sarah Haynes' resounding block.
Setter Taylor Thomas assembled a mini three-point service run to stake Madelia to an early 6-2 lead before Leiding unloaded her lethal right arm. Leiding drilled a cross-court spike with a vapor trail off a Janssen set to rotate backrow specialist Haley Jensen to the service line.
Jensen, who delivered eight digs on the match, displayed her serving prowess by assembling a pivotal six-point run to transform a 6-3 deficit into a 9-6 edge. Leiding and Thiesse each pounded out two kills to highlight the scoring run.
After an errant MCW serve, Leiding quickly regained possession by quick-wristing another cross-court rocket for a sideout kill.
Autumn Smith, who co-led the Mavericks with Klima by notching nine digs each, reeled off four more points from the end line to double the margin to 14-7.
Jordan Gregory and Thiesse combined to control the airwaves above the net during the next scoring sequence before Madelia hitter Danielle Arndt's kill temporarily halted the Mavericks' momentum.
Six individual rotations later, Leiding returned to the outside hitting spot and combined front-row forces with Thiesse to trigger Klima's four-point game-sealing service stint.
Madelia's Sotelo and MCW's Thiesse traded sizzling spikes during Game 2's early stages before Leiding cranked a cross-court sizzler off a Janssen assist to regain serve trailing 11-10.
Klima, who connected on 25 of 28 serves, assembled an incredible momentum-shifting 13-point run to put the game out of reach at 23-11. Thiesse dominated the air space above the net by crunching three Janssen sets for winners before registering three of her match-best eight rejections during the double-digit offensive avalanche.
After a Maverick missed serve, Thiesse and Janssen quickly worked a perfectly-timed set-spike-kill play to cap the 25-12 Game 2 triumph.
Game 3 proved more Leiding from the left outside spiking position and Klima from the service area.
Leiding's stinging sideout kill rotated Klima into the leadoff spot and the junior defensive specialist assembled a string of six straight to build an imposing 7-0 lead.
Leiding later displayed her precision tipping skills off one of Ellie Kuehl's six assists before Autumn Smith stepped to the line. Smith delivered four more points to widen the Mavericks' commanding lead to 15-2.
McKenna Taylor later converted a slide kill off a Kuehl set to regain possession at 19-5 before Gregory delivered the final six points to ice the Mavericks' three-game sweep.
Taylor contributed six kills to Martin County West's balanced performance, while Gregory supplied five kills and two blocks.
Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 3, Blue Earth Area 0 - The No. 2-seeded hometown Bucs swept the No. 7-seeded visiting Bucs, 25-13, 25-19, 25-17, during Section 2AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action Thursday night in Waterville.
Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (21-7) advances to face No. 3-seeded St. Peter (18-7) in Tuesday's sub-section semifinal match 30 minutes after the completion of the 6 p.m. match at Mankato East High School.
Blue Earth Area ended its season with a 2-21 record.
Haley Resutek connected on 8 of 10 serves for four points, including two aces, to top BEA, while teammate Audrey McDonald collected three kills and 14 digs to complement 13-for-14 serving en route to eight points and two aces.
Nicole Krinke supplied five kills, distributed six set assists and made four digs; Ciarra Olson delivered four kills and two blocks; while Kylie Ahl produced six set assists and five digs for BEA.