FAIRMONT - Teammates Paige Bearson, Kayla Lardy and Elizabeth Kim executed Fairmont volleyball mentor Brad Haugen's pre-match strategy to a 'T' on Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym.
Bearson pounded out a match-high 13 points behind 19-for-19 serving, Lardy smacked a match-best 10 kills and Elizabeth Kim generated a dozen points with 16 perfect serves to engineer the Cardinals' 25-15, 25-22, 25-11 sweep of the Waseca Bluejays in Fairmont.
"Tonight, our mantra was to apply pressure by serving and attacking aggressively, and when we executed that game plan, we did a good job of keeping Waseca out of its offense," said Haugen.
EXTENSION — Fairmont outside hitter Paige Bearson (4) extends to flip a tip over the net as teammate Kayla Lardy watches during South Central Conference volleyball action Tuesday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Photo by Leanna Becker
The Cardinals' three-game shutout also improved their South Central Conference record to 5-2, with three tough league matches remaining on the regular-season docket.
"We've put ourselves in a good position to earn a share of the conference championship, but we'll definitely have to play well to earn it next week," Haugen said in reference to back-to-back SCC clashes on the road - a trip to St. James on Monday night before riding the bus to Blue Earth Area next Tuesday night.
Blue Earth Area, who tops the conference standings at 6-1, experienced its only league loss - a five-game slugfest - to St. James on Sept. 27.
After Bearson played a key role from the service line in building an early 6-1 lead during Game 1, 6-foot middle hitter Anne Guse and 6-1 spiker Katie Miller literally blocked the Bluejays back to even at 11-all.
Lardy's back-to-back down-the-line hits off two of Emily Kim's 13 set assists and Kristen Campe's bump-over rotated Tori Edgington to the service area at 18-14.
Edgington, who connected on 11 of 14 serves, hammered out six of her nine points on the match to swing the momentum back to Fairmont for good at 24-14. Edgington delivered a pair of aces to help spur the pivotal point swing.
Lardy then sealed the 10-point margin of victory in the opener by pounding a down-the-line kill off an Emily Kim loft.
Campe then celebrated her 17th birthday by reeling off three clutch service points during the early stages of Game 2 to erase the Cardinals' 8-5 deficit.
Bearson jackhammered one of her six kills off one of Elizabeth Kim's 11 set assists to ignite the run before Guse countered by pounding down a Jordan Paulson set assist for a key sideout at 9-8.
The two teams exchanged short runs to 15-all before Waseca sailed a serve over the end line to bring Elizabeth Kim onto the hardwood court.
Elizabeth Kim strung together a pivotal six-point service run to put Fairmont in the driver's seat at 22-15 in the middle game.
"Normally, she (Elizabeth Kim) serves more for accuracy, but tonight, she really served aggressively and scored some big points for us," said Haugen.
Quinn Harguth's three-point service stint inched Waseca within three at 22-19, but a Bluejay miscue from the line two rotations later proved costly by handing Point 25 to Fairmont.
Bearson continued the Cardinals' hard-hitting service attack by pounding seven straight points from the line to establish an early 8-2 edge in Game 3. Edgington's power tip and Lardy's quick kill off an Emily Kim set helped power the offensive surge.
Elizabeth Kim did not allow Waseca to recover from what proved to be its final errant serve as the senior playmaker closed out Game 3 and the match with a five-point service stint. Mikayla Krzywicki's bump-over and Kersten Shantz's cross-court kill capped Fairmont's last point-producing surge.
Fairmont (7-7, 5-2 SCC) travels to St. James on Monday night for a conference match, while Waseca (3-11, 1-7) hits the road to Waterville-Elysian-Morristown on Monday.
Waseca defeated Fairmont in B-squad action, 25-21, 26-24, Tuesday in Fairmont.
Aly Eversman collected 15 digs to go with five aces behind 11-for-12 serving for the Cardinals, while Morgan Seifried distributed 13 set assists.
Haley Harder notched three digs and went 7 of 9 serving for Fairmont, Sydney Glienke collected six digs and five kills, while Michaela Twitchell supplied four kills and was 5-for-5 serving.
Courtney Mosloski pounded out four kills for the Cardinals, while Tieryn Arens added three digs to go with 6 of 7 serving.
Fairmont downed Waseca in C-squad action, 24-26, 27-25, 15-9, Tuesday in Fairmont.
Alyssa Westcott distributed 10 set assists for the Cardinals, Marissa Krzywicki was perfect at the service, while Sarah Tschumperlin delivered solid blocking.