TRIMONT - Kennedy Janssen dispersed sets to her hard-hitting Martin County West teammates with mid-season accuracy on Tuesday night in Trimont.
Ironically, the Mavericks' first-ever non-league volleyball borderline battle with the vastly-improved North Union Warriors proved the home team's long-awaited season-opener.
Janssen, who earned the role of starting setter this fall, distributed a match-best 23 assists to complement 11 points behind 15-for-15 serving to guide Martin County West to a hard-fought 25-17, 26-24, 25-17 victory over North Union.
CURLING SPIKE — Martin County West’s Kate Thiesse (7) curls a line-drive spike around North Union blocker Emily Hagebock (10) during nonconference volleyball action Tuesday night in Trimont. North Union’s Madison Bollig (1) and Sarah Rolling (far left) look for a possible carom. Maverick players Kennedy Janssen (11), Molly Klima (middle) and Haley Jensen (8) anticipate a return shot. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"It's a new season and a different lineup," said Maverick mentor Mary Sussenguth, who led the blue-and-black attack to the 2012 Class A state tournament in only her second year at the program's helm. "We had to replace a couple of spots from last year's team, but the girls are working hard and have been very competitive in practice."
With outside hitter Taryn Tumbleson out for the season due to a preseason automobile accident, senior middle hitter Kate Thiesse & Co. literally elevated their spiking attacks to another level against the visiting Warriors.
Thiesse utilized her kangaroo-like vertical pounce and athletic aerial antics to pound out a match-high 13 kills, including a quick kill off a Janssen set assist midway through Game 1.
Haley Jensen's diving dig-turned-perfect-pass off of a Madison Bollig sizzling spike led to Janssen's well-timed loft to Thiesse for the cranked kill at 9-5.
Thiesse then reeled off back-to-back service aces before Bollig countered for the Warriors with one of her team-high eight kills off one of Ashley Olson's 11 set assists.
Trailing 15-7, North Union middle hitter Aurora Oliver displayed her vertical jump by notching a pivotal sideout block to shift the momentum in the green-and-white's direction.
With Sarah Rolling serving, Oliver registered three thumped kills off sets from Morgan Rahm to inch the Warriors to 15-12 before Maverick middle hitter McKenna Taylor batted down one of her five blocks for a key sideout.
North Union outside spiker Emily Hagebock and MCW outside hitter Jordan Gregory exchanged frontline firepower to 22-17 before a Warrior hitting error rotated Janssen to the line.
Janssen served out the final three points of the Mavericks' 25-17 opening win, with Hailey Leiding delivering a right-side spike-winner off a Janssen assist.
Oliver's prowess near the net and Rolling's point-generating serving then fueled North Union's leads early and midway through Game 2.
Rolling, who went 15 of 17 at the line, chalked up four of her 10 points on the match - including three aces - to snap a tie at 11-all before Taylor countered with a sideout kill.
Autumn Smith, who went 17-for-17 serving, then evened the scales at 15-all by delivering three of her 11 points on the match for the Mavericks.
Thiesse and Bollig traded winners above the frontline airspace to 23-all before Marissa Guerdet converted a Rahm set into another tie at 24-all on the heels of Janssen's ace serve.
Reilly Geistfeld's tip proved just far enough out of the Warriors' returnable reach to put the Mavericks up 25-24 before Autumn Smith delivered Game 2's winning point.
Smith then picked up in Game 3 where she left off in the middle contest by lining home four unanswered service points to build an early 5-1 edge.
Autumn Boland then countered with a down-the-line kill and a four-point service stint to pull the Warriors even again at 9-all.
Thiesse, however, seemed to get stronger as the match wore on, adjusting in mid-air to smack down a Janssen set for a clutch sideout later at 20-13.
Haley Jensen and Ashley Olson traded two-point service stints for MCW and North Union, respectively, before Geistfeld's block and Thiesse's quick kill off a perfect Janssen loft closed out Game 3 at 25-17.
"I wouldn't have believed that the team (North Union) we played tonight only had two starters back from last year's team," said Sussenguth. "They're a hard-working group that's scrappy. They should win their share of matches as the season goes on."
Taylor finished with five blocks and five kills for the Mavericks, Gregory supplied six kills, while Leiding chipped in five kills.
Oliver topped all players with six blocks to complement six kills for the Warriors, while Hagebock supplied five kills and three rejections. Rahm doled out 11 set assists, while Boland connected on 11 of 11 serves for five points.
Martin County West (1-0) competes in the Mankato West Invite Saturday at the Minnesota State University, Mankato campus.
North Union (3-3) plays in the Algona High School Invite on Saturday.
Mountain Lake Area 3, Truman 0 - The Wolverines fended off the Bluejays, 25-19, 26-24, 25-21, during non-league action Tuesday in Mountain Lake.
Emily Zaharia produced nine kills and 22 digs to pace Truman's effort, while Cydney Kilian doled out 11 set assists and made seven digs.
Alexis Jahnz supplied 24 digs and four kills, Stephanie Jahnz chipped in 10 digs, Elizabeth Kotewa knocked down three hills, while Hanna Hartman tallied three kills for the Bluejays.
Truman (0-2) travels to Lake Crystal on Thursday night.