STATE VOLLEYBALL: Tigers take down Roseau in state opener in three sets
ST. PAUL – After a brief two-season hiatus from the state tournament, the Marshall volleyball team returned Thursday to the Xcel Energy Center for a quarterfinal matchup against the Roseau Rams. The Tigers utilized a balanced attack and were aggressive at the service line to get past the Rams in straight sets and advance to the semifinal round of the Class AA tournament.
“Two of the things I thought we did a good job of was serving and passing,” Marshall coach Dan Westby said. “When you get in a big arena like this passing can be a challenge.”
In all three sets the Tigers had a different kills leader. Westby said that’s been the team’s calling card all season.
“We were balanced again,” Westby said. “We did a nice job of getting our right sides involved. Kaylee Gossen did a nice job there. She got a little crafty at the end there. We don’t necessarily hang our hat on one hitter.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set. Roseau quickly responded by going on a 5-0 run of its own to even the set at 5-5.
Following the back and forth start the two teams traded points. In the end the Tigers came out on top, 25-22.
“It was a little bit of a slow start,” Westby said. “That’s nothing shocking, considering the new faces we have on the court. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been here. We are playing a lot of younger kids.”
With a young team that has never played at the state tournament before, Westby and his staff decided to simplify things.
“We talked in the locker room,” Westby said. “We compared it to baseball. When a baseball player is not doing things well at the plate they simplify things and say, ‘see ball, hit ball’. Well we turned it into a volleyball term of ‘see ball, dig ball’. We just tried to simplify things as much as we could.”
Whitney Schwartz led the Tigers with four kills in the first set. Kaylee Gossen recorded three kills. Jordyn Hilgemann and Erica Jones both recorded two kills.
Jones said that winning the first set did a lot for the team’s confidence.
“I think it was huge,” Jones said. “Throughout our season when we get ahead early on in sets we do much better than trying to come from behind. I think coming out and winning that first set really gave us a confidence boost.”
It was Jones helping the Tigers get out to a fast start in the second set. Jones recorded three kills and one ace, as the Tigers jumped out to a 9-1 lead.
That fast start helped the Tigers run away from Roseau, 25-13 in the second set. Jones finished the set with five kills and one ace.
“We got in a rhythm,” Jones said. “We were passing well. Our setters were giving hittable balls. Everybody was doing their job.”
Marshall jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third set. Just like they did in the first set, Roseau battled back to tie the match at 5-5. The Tigers held a 13-12 lead and closed out the set on a 12-6 run to win the set, 25-18.
Logan Sherman and Gossen both recorded three kills to lead the Tigers. Paige Andries recorded two kills and two blocks. Schwartz finished with two kills and two blocks.
With the win the Tigers will play North Branch in the semifinals today at 7 p.m.
“We just have to play like we did today,” Jones said. “We have to serve tough and pass well.”
North Branch owns a 27-3 record. They defeated Watertown-Mayer in straight sets in the opening round.
“They are a very good team,” Westby said. “I think you could have made an argument for them being the two seed as well. It’s going to come down to serving and passing. We need to continue to focus on doing those two skills well.”
Roseau 22 13 19
Marshall 25 25 25
Serving (Ace): Marshall (Schnaible, Jones 2 aces; Schwarz 1 ace).
Kills: Marshall (Andries 9; Jones, Gossen 8; Hilgemann, Schwartz 7).
Digs: Marshall (Schnaible 9; Sherman 6; Jones, Schwarz 3).
Set Assists: Marshall (Sherman 20; Schwarz 16).
Blocks: Marshall (Schwartz 2; Sherman, Andries, Gossen, Hilgemann 1).