PREP VOLLEYBALL: Senior-led Knights look to continue hot streak in sections
TYLER – It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights. The Knights started the season with an 0-4 record and at one point were 2-7 overall. It was a disappointing start to the season for a team that had eight seniors on the roster.
Since that 2-7 start the Knights have bounced by going 12-4 to finish with a 14-11 record. The Knights ended the season by winning their final three matches.
One of the eight seniors on the roster is Chloe Hess. The middle hitter said that communication has been key for the Knights during their strong finish to the season.
“I think with the Wabasso game we talked right away,” Hess said. “We had more confidence. We knew we could win. It was the same thing with the Edgerton game.”
At the beginning of the season the Knights were making too many mistakes. Mya Christensen, the team’s setter said that the team has done a good job of learning from their mistakes.
“I think the ability to learn from our mistakes,” Christensen said. “As we get more towards the end of the year we’ve learned that we need to get rid of the mistakes to make it further.”
Experience is the best teacher. Tina Haroldson said the team’s strength this year has been their senior leadership.
“I think experience has been key,” Haroldson said. “We have a lot of girls with a lot of varsity experience. We have individuals that have played at this level for a couple of years now. They know what to do.”
The senior laden Knights team will open up the section tournament at home on Monday against Renville County West. The Knights defeated RCW earlier this year in straight sets.
“We are really fortunate,” Lexi Wendland said. “A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to get their last first playoff game at home. For us it’s awesome to play at home.”
The Knights finished the season with a 5-3 record at home. Haroldson said that the Knights are looking forward to playing a home playoff game in front of their typically rowdy crowd.
“It’s really nice to be at home,” Haroldson said. “The crowd does a nice job of getting into the game and pumping us up.”
Haroldson finished the season with a team-leading 320 kills. The senior leader finished second on the team in digs with 594.
“Tina pulls us all together,” Christensen said. “She knows how to get on us when we are not focused. She knows how to push us in a positive direction to finish strong.”
Wendland finished second on the team with 296 kills. Hess said that Wendland sees the court well.
“Every time she goes up to hit she knows where to put the ball,” Hess said. “If it doesn’t work out for her she just tries again.”
Hess finished with 83 kills and finished second on the team with 45 blocks. Christensen said Hess always seems to come up with a big block.
“Chloe has a great ability to get to those blocks,” Christensen said. “She had big blocks in the Wabasso and Edgerton games.”
Christensen finished the regular season with 677 assists. Wendland said that Christensen is the glue that keeps the team together.
“She has the ability to control the ball and the tempo,” Wendland said. “Even if the whole entire team is off Mya is able to get the team back together.”
On a team full of senior leaders it was Kalleigh Carr that led the team in digs (653) and aces (18). Sophomore, Madison Witte led the team with 60 blocks. Sophomore, Kylea Baartman and junior, Madison Muenchow finished second on the team with 15 aces.