TRIMONT - The Martin County West Mavericks flexed their collective muscle in a 25-18, 25-9, 25-18 Valley Conference volleyball victory over the Nicollet Raiders on Thursday night in Trimont.
The intensity level was palpable in the Mavericks' gym through the first five points as the teams dueled back-and-forth.
Kate Thiesse gave the Mavericks a 5-2 lead with back-to-back kills. Hailey Leiding set Thiesse for a hit, and then Thiesse gave the Mavericks the lead with a kill on an overpass.
CIRCLE OF FRIENDS — Martin County West libero Molly Klima bumps the volleyball forward as teammates, clockwise from left, Autumn Smith, Taryn Tumbleson, Kate Thiesse and Kennedy Janssen await the pass during Valley Conference volleyball action Thursday night in Trimont. Photo by Leanna Becker
Nicollet's Sara Meurer and libero Courtney Struss connected to give the Raiders a 6-5 lead, when Struss sent a kill into the far corner.
An Autumn Smith ace serve knotted things at 10-10, and a Smith kill on a set from Morgan Williamson gave MCW an 11-10 lead.
Struss again brought the Raiders back with a shot right on the line to make it 11-11.
Thiesse sent a Kennedy Janssen set between two Raider defenders to make it 12-11 for MCW.
"This kind of match really helps us work on our style of play. We have been playing at a high level for one game or two, but we are working on not letting down in matches," said Martin County West head coach Mary Sussenguth. "Tonight we had moments where I think our energy went down, but not our confidence."
A Williamson ace made it 14-12 and shifted the momentum back in the Mavericks' favor.
Janssen stepped to the service line with a 4-point lead, looking for to go on a run to win the first game.
Williamson set Jordan Gregory, who sent a sharp-angeled kill cross-court and then on the ensuing point, a Thiesse attack got the Raiders' defense off-balanced to make it 23-17.
"This was as really fun match for me as a coach. It was one where I started to see the maturity of our players, to see them make adjustments or do see them do things that we've worked on in practice it just makes everything so fun," said Sussenguth. "We've been working on cross-court kills, so to see them do that and to have the confidence they can do it is so exciting."
Janssen then served a short floater to make it 24-17. The Raiders then got the serve back on a Janssen serve in the net, but Thiesse scored the 25-18 win with a block on a tip by Nicollet's Katelyn Skrien.
MCW took the wind out of the Raiders' sails with the game one victory and cruised to a 25-9 Game 2 win.
With an 11-point lead, Smith served a hard liner before Thiesse sent a Woller spike to floor with a one-handed solo block to start a four-point streak for MCW.
Williamson set Libbie Lange twice for kills to make it 23-8 and 24-9 down the home stretch in the second game, with Lange's second swing sailing out of bounds off a Raiders' block.
In Game 3, the tension was amplified yet again in the Maverick's gym. With the Raiders leading for the first time since Game 1, 5-4, Molly Klima made a dig rolling to her right to set up a Williamson-to-Gregory connection on a cross-court shot to knot the game.
A string of Maverick errors helped Nicollet to a 14-11 lead, before Sussenguth called timeout, hoping to shift momentum.
The plan worked and two Raiders' errors later the Mavericks were back within one, 14-13.
Lange recorded a big block on a Raiders' kill that led to a Hailey Leiding dig to continue the point and ended with a Williamson set to Leiding, who pounded it through two Nicollet blockers to make it 15-15.
On possibly the longest point of the night, Williamson set attacks by Leiding, Thiesse and Gregory before Gregory finally ended the rally with a cross-court kill to make it 18-16.
The Mavericks would only allow two more points in the game as they went on to win 25-18.
Thiesse and Gregory led the Mavericks offense, each with eight kills in the match. Thiesse also added two blocks for MCW, while Taryn Tumbleson collected one block. Lange smoked six kills for points, while Tumbleson and Leiding each tallied four kills.
Klima made 23 digs in the match, and served up two aces, while Smith had three ace serves and eight digs for the Mavericks.
Williamson scattered 21 set assists in the match and recorded three ace serves, while Janssen distributed 12 set assists in the win.
Jackie Schliesmann made 10 digs for MCW.
Martin County West (12-4) travels to play in the Blue Earth Area Invite on Saturday, while Nicollet (2-9) hosts New Ulm Cathedral on Monday in Nicollet.
Fairmont 3, New Ulm 0 - The Cardinals earned six ace blocks in the first game to trigger a 25-15, 25-23, 25-16 sweep over the Eagles during South Central Conference action Thursday night in New Ulm.
New Ulm earned the first point in the opening game, but the Cardinals tied the score on a kill by Kayla Lardy (10 kills) and continued to increase their lead from that point on.
The Eagles hung around to keep within striking distance in the set, but with the score at 15-8 the Fairmont's Emily Kim produced an eight-point service run that stunted the home side's hopes of a comeback.
Chase Schewe's kill gave New Ulm a 22-21 lead in Game 2, but the Cardinals ended the set on a 4-1 run to pull ahead 2-0 in the match.
Fairmont maintained a lead of at least six until Paige Bearson (10 kills) produced a kill to end the match.
Top contributors for the Cardinals in the contest included Brooke Wubbena (9-for-10 serving, three aces), Tori Edgington (14 digs), Emily Kim (19-for-20 serving, three aces, 19 set assists) and Kersten Shantz (five solo blocks).
Fairmont (6-7, 4-2 SCC) plays host to Waseca on Tuesday night.
New Ulm defeated Fairmont in B-squad action, 25-17, 25-23, Thursday.
Tieryn Arens went 9-for-9 serving with three aces to go with two kills to top the Cardinals, while Aly Eversman went 6-for-6 from the line and made six digs. Haley Harder went 4-for-5 serving and had three digs, while Morgan Seifried delivered two service aces and six set assists.
New Ulm defeated Fairmont in C-squad play, 25-22, 25-14, 10-15, Thursday in New Ulm.
Payton Walser went 21 of 22 at the service line to go with seven kills, while Alyssa Westcott and Brice Bonin each doled out seven set assists.
St. James 3, Blue Earth Area 2 - The Saints upset the South Central Conference-leading Bucs, 15-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-12, on Thursday night in St. James.
The Saints' Julia Beckius had 22 kills to pace the offensive attack, while Liz Reckow recorded six kills and went a perfect 9-for-9 from the service line with two ace serves.
Emily Bottem distributed 42 set assists and went 15 of 16 serving with three aces.
The Bucs' Krista Hassing tallied 22 kills and six blocks, while Monica Krieger doled out 35 set assits and went 20 of 21 from the service line with three ace serves.
St. Peter (4-9, 3-3 SCC) hosts a tournament on Saturday in St. Peter, while Blue Earth Area (11-3, 6-1 SCC) hosts the Buc Invite on Saturday.
Cleveland 3, Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain 0 - The Clippers shut out the Knights, 25-20, 25-18, 25-13, on Thursday in Cleveland.
The Knights' Kristi Oberdieck scored six kills and had one block to lead the offense, while Hunter Payne distributed 12 set assists.
Effie Bentz made 20 digs for the Knights.
Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain (4-10) hosts Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in a 7:30 p.m. Valley Conference match next Thurday in Northrop.
St. Clair 3, Truman 0 - The Cyclones downed the Bluejays, 25-12, 25-14, 25-18, on Thursday in St. Clair.
The Bluejays' Savannah Stevens, Hanna Hartman and Elizabeth Kotewa each recorded two kills.
Stevens also had three ace serves and eight digs, Hartman added two blocks and Kotewa had one ace serve and three digs for Truman.
Emily Zaharia made five digs and had two blocks with one kill in the match, while Alexis Jahnz made eight digs and had one ace serve.
Kaitlin Bloomquist made five digs and Samantha Hartwig distributed eight set assists for the Bluejays.
Truman (1-13) hosts Alden-Conger in a 7:30 p.m. Valley Conference match on Tuesday in Truman.
Madelia 3, Maple River 0 - The Blackhawks cruised to a 25-19, 25-12, 25-14 Valley Conference victory over the Eagles on Thursday in Madelia.
Madelia's Haley Reed had 10 digs, including her 1,000th career dig, along with 19 kills to pace the Blackhawks.
Sarah Haynes and Brianna Firchau each scored 12 kills for Madelia, while Emily Koehler doled out 22 set assists.
Taylor Thomas distributed 17 set assits and recorded three service aces. Kayla McCabe made 20 digs for the Blackhawks.
The Eagles' Mackenzie Reinke smoked 16 kills, while teammate Kellie Gerdts had seven kills in the match.
Madelia (7-4, 4-2 Valley) opens the St. James Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday.