Balanced St. Peter spikers floor Fairmont, 3-1

AIR SCHULTZ — Fairmont Area’s Cassidy Schultz reaches over the net as St. Peter’s Paige Hewitt (8) delivers a set during Big South Conference volleyball action Tuesday night in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Cambrie Anderson (second from right) and Kylee Harder react to the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — St. Peter’s veteran volleyball lineup utilized its collective varsity experience to overpower Fairmont’s youthful roster during the Cardinals’ home-opener Tuesday night.

Senior setter Paige Hewitt controlled the Big South Conference match’s tempo from beginning to end, distributing a night’s-best 33 assists and serving up 10 points to pace the visiting Saints’ 25-13, 18-25, 25-16, 25-14 victory over the Cardinals.

Senior middle hitter Sarah Conlon and senior libero Allie McCabe combined to generate seven early points from the service line to help St. Peter build a commanding 10-3 lead in Game 1.

Junior middle spiker Natalie Tonne, who topped Fairmont with 11 kills, and sophomore outside slugger Cassidy Schultz exchanged frontline firepower with Conlon and Saints sophomore teammate Lilly Ruffin to later inch the Cardinals within 16-10 in the opener.

Hewitt’s precision playmaking skills, however, proved too much as she set up Conlon for a quick kill and Ruffin for a cross-court winner during her four-point service run to re-establish St. Peter’s double-digit lead at 23-12.

Conlon, who produced 10 kills to complement 10 service points, lined home the Game 1 winner for the 25-13 Saints’ triumph.

It was more Hewitt and Conlon during the early stages of Game 2 as the pair of St. Peter seniors combined at the service area to build an early 7-1 lead.

Senior left-hander Maggi Pierret, who finished with 10 kills, and senior teammate Brielle Bushaw, who tallied a match-best 14 kills, triggered the Saints’ offensive surge with four combined kills off Hewitt assists.

Schultz, who tallied seven kills, and senior Kylee Harder, however, shifted the momentum of Game 2 in the Cardinals’ direction on the strength of their front-row hitting.

Schultz converted one of junior setter Sabrina Segar’s team-best 16 assists into a stinging cross-court winner before Harder drilled another Segar loft to inch within 11-10.

Harder displayed her all-around arsenal by doling out a pair of sets to Bryn Miller to help engineer Fairmont’s first lead of Game 2 en route to a 23-15 lead. Sophie Johnson assembled a pivotal four-point service run to spur the Cardinals’ run.

An illegal substitution allowed Fairmont to net the Game 2-winning 25th point to even the match at 1-1.

“We had a mix of younger and older hitters step up during a stretch in the second game, and we put together a nice run,” said Fairmont head coach Kim Breamer. “We have a number of players without much varsity experience working hard, and that’s all we can ask for this early in the season.

“We need to think as a team because everyone has to contribute in practice, on the court and on the bench. We need all of that energy.”

Unfortunately, Hewitt got the Saints back on the winning track during the early stages of Game 3 and never looked back.

With Conlon and Ruffin providing the frontline offense off Hewitt assists, McCabe strung together a three-point service stint during the first rotation before delivering a two-point surge to close out Game 3 at 25-16. Bushaw cranked the next-to-last point off a Hewitt assist to fuel the run.

McCabe then transformed a 4-3 deficit into a 7-4 lead in Game 4 by serving three aces before Conlon put the exclamation point on the runaway win.

Conlon reeled off five unanswered points on the strength of Pierret’s spiking and Bushaw quick-handed defense above the net to double the gap to 22-11.

Bushaw’s sideout kill and two points later, ace block, capped St. Peter’s 25-14 Game 4 decision and 3-1 match victory.

Fairmont (0-3) travels to New Ulm on Thursday night, while St. Peter (2-3) hosts St. James Area.

St. Peter edged Fairmont in B-squad action, 22-25, 25-20, 15-9, Tuesday night.

Brittney Mosloski drilled five kills to top the Cardinals, Vanessa Bliesmer tallied four kills, while Kynlie Anderson distributed five set assists and connected for 11 good serves.

New Ulm 3, Blue Earth Area 0 — The Eagles swept the Bucs in a Big South Conference matchup, 25-13, 25-22, 25-11, Tuesday night in Blue Earth.

Gabby Haaland led the Bucs with six kills, while Brita Hougen and Heidi Herrmann added three each.

Haaland also led the team with two ace blocks, while serving 7-for-8 and totalling eight digs.

Setter Liz Beeler doled out 13 assists, while connecting on 11 of 12 serves and hitting two aces. Eloise Blair patrolled the Bucs defense, leading the team with 15 digs.

Blue Earth Area (0-3, 0-2) travels to Waseca Thursday night, while New Ulm plays host to Fairmont.

North Iowa 3, North Union 2 — The Bison outlasted the Warriors, 23-25, 26-24, 25-18, 16-25, 15-9, in a Top of Iowa Conference match Tuesday night in Armstrong.

No individual or team statistics were provided.

North Union (0-1) travels to Forest City, Iowa, Thursday night.