JACKSON - The Class AA, No. 9-ranked and No. 2-seeded Jackson County Central Huskies volleyball team used a balanced offensive attack with her four outside hitters to surge past the No. 7-seeded Fairmont Cardinals, 25-16, 25-9, 25-10, in Section 3AA, South Sub-Section quarterfinal action on Friday night in Jackson.
The Huskies (21-7) advance to host No. 3 seed Pipestone Area at 7 p.m. Tuesday in sub-section semifinal action in Jackson.
The Arrows advanced after outlasting No. 6 seed St. James, 25-22, 16-25, 21-25, 26-24, 15-12.
LOFTY SET — Fairmont outside hitter Kersten Shantz (1) prepares to crank a high spike as Jackson County Central’s Rachel Johnson (middle back) and Abby Benson defend during Section 3AA quarterfinal volleyball action Friday night in Jackson. Fairmont’s Kristen Campe, from left, Sydney Glienke, Emily Kim (3), Madison Geerdes and Kayla Lardy (16) watch the play. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Fairmont finished the season with a 7-15 record.
"I thought that we should have gotten our middle hitters involved more, and I'm not sure why we didn't, but I thought we played well. Not great, but well," said Jackson County Central head coach Teresa Van Epps.
The Cardinals jumped out to early leads in both Games 1 and 3. Unfortunately for Fairmont, the Huskies managed to end both with the score in their favor.
Fairmont senior Kayla Lardy tipped one of Emily Kim's 12 set assists over the outstretched arms of JCC's Allison Benson to put the Cardinals up 2-0.
"We came out really aggressive in the first game and had a lot of really good momentum and were feeling great," said Fairmont head coach Brad Haugen.
Allison Benson then returned the favor, smacking one of her five kills off a Rachel Johnson set assist.
The Huskies evened the score at 3-3 when Johnson, who had 29 set assists, sent one over her head to Abby Benson for a right-side attack that found the floor.
The Huskies then took a 6-4 lead thanks to back-to-back kills from Sydney Nyborg, who had a match-leading 12 spikes.
Lardy, who finished with a team-leading seven kills and two blocks, powered a swing through a Huskie double block to keep the deficit at 6-5.
A net serve sent the ball back to the Huskies where Abby Benson served up an ace before Nyborg scorched a kill to take a 9-5 lead.
Abby Benson sent her third serve wide, allowing the Cardinals' Kristen Campe, who had 11 digs, to use her serving prowess to sizzle an ace.
The Huskies responded with a four-point rally to make it 13-7.
Both teams traded blows, with Sydney Eddy and Lardy trading swings, but the back rows extended the point into a long rally. The Huskies' Kathryn Nasby, who made 14 digs, and Fairmont's Sydney Glienke, who finished with 17 digs, and Campe refused to let the ball hit the floor.
Eddy ended the point to extend JCC's lead to 13-7, but on the next play, a hitting error gave the ball right back to the Cardinals at 13-8.
"We came out guns blazing, and in the first game we were able to stick with them in points and even win some long rallies," said Haugen.
Fairmont's Courtney Mosloski, who finished with three kills, recorded her first of the match when she tipped a Husky overpass back down to make it 13-9.
Mosloski then combined with Glienke at the net for a block on an Allison Benson attack to get the score to 13-10. Mosloski was then the benefactor of a Campe dig off an Eddy attack, smacking Kim's assist down the middle to make it 15-11.
Lardy joined the action, making it 15-12 with a powerful swing through a JCC double block.
Kenna Bannister pounded a Johnson assist on the left side for one of her five kills to swing the momentum back to the home team.
After Nasby, who went 9-for-10 serving with two aces sparked a four-point run for the Huskies, the Cardinals struggled to find a response. Nyborg clinched the opening-game win with a crushing blow from the left side to make it 25-16.
The Huskies went on to win Game 2 by a 25-9 margin with the added offense of Kaylee Burmeister, who had nine kills.
"Kaylee is one of our top players, but she has been out with an injury and this is the first that she's played since the first week of October," said Van Epps. "It was really nice to see her come out and play well for us."
The Cardinals showed life in the third game when senior Kersten Shantz tipped a Kim assist down the line to inch Fairmont within 11-7.
"Mentally, I think we were fine the first game, but then the second it's like we realized who was across the net," said Haugen. "At any point as a coach, I think we are one point away from starting or ending a rally, but tonight we played a tough team and we fought hard."
After a net serve and a Bannister kill upped the Huskies 13-7, Cardinal senior Madison Geerdes slid around for an attack to make it 13-8.
The Huskies held off the Cardinals for a 25-10 win in Game 3 to close out the match.
"I thought that we played well, not great, but played well enough to win," said Van Epps. "I wasn't happy that we let up in the third game a little and we can't do that against teams if we keep going. But we get to keep playing another day."