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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Area teams wrap up at Southwest Challenge tournament

Photo by Sam Thiel Marshall’s Erica Jones hits the ball over the net during their match against Kasson-Mantorville on Saturday.

MARSHALL – Tens of schools and five area volleyball teams all converged on the hardwood courts of Marshall High School and Southwest Minnesota State University over the weekend, with Marshall, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Minneota, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and Yellow Medicine East competing against some of the state’s best.

Marshall

The Tigers kicked off their tournament play on Friday evening with a matchup against Burnsville. Marshall took the best 2 of 3 series winning by scores of 25-17 and 25-23. They then advanced to face Wayzata, with Marshall winning by scores of 25-18 and 25-23.

On Saturday, the Tigers squared off against Lakeville South. Marshall would fall to the Cougars by scores of 25-13 and 25-18 and drop to the consolation round of the championship bracket.

Marshall then faced Kasson-Mantorville in the next round, falling in the first set 25-21. The Tigers then earned a hard-fought 25-21 Set 2 victory, but couldn’t get past the Komets in the third set, falling 15-6.

The Tigers wrapped up their tournament with a matchup against Prior Lake. Marshall got out to a strong start and took down the Lakers 25-15 and 25-15 to earn a seventh-place finish.

Marshall coach Dan Westby said they would’ve liked to see a better outcome as team but overall felt his team played hard and they just need to continue to grow as the season goes on.

“I thought overall certainly record-wise, we would have preferred to see something better than 3-2, but considering the teams we played, if you don’t come ready to play every time you run the risk of getting beat,” Westby said. “Overall, I thought our kids played hard; there were a couple of lapses, but that’s bound to happen. We need to just grow and still try and work some things out and move forward.”

Marshall will face Luverne on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. Westby said their biggest takeaway from the tournament is they just need to stay consistent and play at a high level.

“The hope is you gain a feel for what it’s like to compete against quality teams, which I mentioned we did,” Westby said. “We just have to get some consistency of playing at a high level.”

Minneota

The Vikings began tournament play on Friday with a matchup against Perham. Minneota won in two sets (25-14, 25-20) to advance to face Eastview, where the Vikings won by scores of 25-19 and 25-20 to move on to the championship bracket.

On Saturday, the Vikings took on Northfield, with Minneota and the Raiders battling for a spot in the semifinal round. Northfield took the match in a hard-fought three sets (13-25, 25-21, 18-16), sending Minneota to the consolation round.

The Vikings then faced Prior Lake in the next round, with the outcome once again being decided in three sets. This time, Minneota took the victory, winning by scores of 25-14, 32-34 and 15-9.

Minneota would wrap up its tournament with a matchup against Kasson-Mantorville. Just like they did all day on Saturday, the Vikings closed things out with another three-set thriller, ultimately defeating the Komets 25-14, 22-25 and 16-14 to earn a fifth-place finish.

Minneota coach Haley Fruin said she was pleased with the effort from her team and was proud of their ability to show resiliency in the third set of every match on Saturday.

“I thought we always came out strong and ready to go. Had some moments where we fell a little flat, in the second set all day actually; we went three sets all day (Saturday), and played three tough teams,” Fruin said. “We were able to pull it together in the third set as a team, so it’s nice to see that even that we lost the second set, we found some momentum every third set and won all of them.”

Lydia Sussner led the way for the Vikings with 57 total kills in the tournament while Lizzy Gillingham added 48 and Natalee Rolbiecki had 43. Rolbiecki and Gillingham led in digs with 53 total apiece while Morgan Hennen added 52 and Abby Hennen had 50. Morgan Kockelman led in set assists with 150 total.

Fruin said some positives from the tournament were the play from their outside hitters and setters as well as their defense in the back row.

“Individually, I thought Lizzy and Abby had a great tournament, Morgan Kockelman did a nice job of mixing the ball and finding her hitters,” Fruin said. “I thought we defended pretty tough and were scrappy in the back row. Overall, a good tournament.”

Minneota will face MACCRAY on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.

RTR

The Knights started their tournament play Friday with a matchup against Benilde St. Margarets, with RTR falling 26-24 and 25-6, before the Knights squared off against LeSueur-Henderson. RTR put up a hard-fought pair of sets, but ultimately fell to LeSueur-Henderson by scores of 27-25 and 25-19 to fall into the 25th-32nd place bracket.

On Saturday, RTR faced Owatonna, winning by scores of 20-25, 25-18 and 15-13 to winning another three-set match against Fergus Falls (25-14, 24-26, 15-9) to advance to the 25th place match against Sioux Falls Roosevelt. The Knights once again took it to three sets, and won by scores of 25-18, 13-25 and 15-13 to earn a 25th place finish.

Haley Muenchow led the way for the Knights with 34 total kills on the tournament while Kylea Baartman and Kalleigh Carr each added 25 kills. Mckinley Schreurs led in set assists with 101 while Carr led in digs with 43. Baartman also led in service aces with seven.

RTR coach Daynica Brown said coming into the tournament they knew it was going to be challenging, but was proud of their effort and felt they were able to build their confidence as a young team.

“We knew coming into this tournament it was going to be a tough tournament; they bring great teams to this tournament. We were right there with all of those games and in that sense I think it allowed us to start building and growing our confidence,” Brown said. “When you’re young there’s a lot of things where you can make mistakes but control the things that you can, from effort to attitude.”

RTR will face TMB on Tuesday. Brown said their biggest takeaway will be continuing to play as a team and combine all the strengths that each player brings to the table as a group.

“I think the biggest thing we can take away is playing as a team. We either will rise as a team or fall as a team because we don’t have that one star player that can carry them all on their back, we need to do it all together,” Brown said. “We’re very evenly matched and have different strengths but we need each one of them. Through this tournament, we just know we have to pick it up to a higher level and in general, we know we can play with higher teams, it’s just we have to play basic volleyball and play smart.”

TMB

The Panthers kicked off their tournament play on Friday with a matchup against Kasson-Mantorville, falling by scores of 25-13 and 25-9 before dropping to Jamestown in three sets 22-25, 25-20 and 4-15 to fall into the 25th-32nd place bracket.

On Saturday, the Panthers battled Sioux Falls Roosevelt, with TMB falling in a hard-fought three sets 25-23, 20-25, 9-15 before defeating Heron Lake-Okabena 25-19 and 25-9 to advance to the 29th place match. TMB then fell to Perham 25-14 and 25-14 to earn a 30th place finish.

Samantha Edwards led the way for the Panthers with 30 total kills in the tournament while Margaret Dolan and Kylie Hensch each added 13 kills. Brooklyn Ludeman led in digs with 43 total while Dolan added 32 and Maddi Langerock chipping in 31. Langerock also led in set assists with 29 total.

TMB coach Rick Haberman said their effort and play throughout the tournament was good at times, but wants to work on staying more consistent as a team.

“We’re just trying to be more consistent with what we’re doing,” Haberman said. “We have flashes where we’re doing things pretty well but volleyball really rewards consistency, so that’s what we’re hoping to achieve is more consistency in the things that we do.”

Haberman added their biggest takeaway will be looking back at the fundamentals with their defense and making sure their energy level is at a high level.

“We’re facing a number of teams that have a number of good hitters; it’s really stressing our defense so our biggest takeaway is when we play with more energy, we play better defense,” Haberman said. “We just need to get back to some of fundamentals of getting stops on defense and calling out the ball early and staying light on our feet.”

YME

The Sting started tournament play with a matchup against Hutchinson, with YME falling by scores of 25-14 and 25-18. YME then faced Fergus Falls, winning by scores of 25-23, 21-25 and 15-6 to move to the 17th-24th place bracket.

On Saturday, the Sting squared off with Totino Grace, falling by scores of 25-20 and 25-19 to fall into the consolation round. The Sting then defeated LeSueur-Henderson 25-20 and 25-19 to advance to the 21st place match, where YME defeated Waconia in three sets (14-25, 25-19 and 15-12) to earn a 21st place finish.

YME coach Leah Fadness said they started a little slow to begin the tournament but felt as it went on, they did a better job of having higher expectations for themselves.

“The first game we came out a little bit slow on Friday when we played Hutchinson,” Fadness said. “Then we just talked about expecting more of ourselves and making sure we hold ourselves accountable so that we can play a little more competitive and play at a higher level. Then in our second match against Fergus Falls, we were able to do that.”

Mackenzie Dyrdahl led the way for the Sting on Day One with 22 total kills while Meeghen Dahlager added 13. Dahlager led in digs with 23 total while Madison Hinz led in set assists with 38 total.

YME will face Dawson-Boyd on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. Fadness said their biggest takeaway is using this tournament to help strengthen their team by playing against quality opponents.

“This is a great tournament because I think my mindset is we’re not going to get better playing mediocre teams, we’re going to get better if we’re challenged by the great teams that were here,” Fadness said. “I’m excited to see at a tournament like this where the result at the end might not look like it’s positive but at the end of the season, playing tougher teams is going to make us stronger.”

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