Blue Earth Area outlasts Fairmont in 5-game volleyball clash

DOUBLE TROUBLE — Blue Earth Area’s Brita Hougen (middle) and Alicia Machacek (far right) set a double block on Fairmont’s Kylee Harder during volleyball Thursday in Fairmont. The Cardinals’ Chloe Murphy (12), Cassidy Schultz (9) and Kaitlyn Scott (16) watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — “With as young a team as we are this season, I can’t focus on the win column. I have to look for little victories in each player every match,” said Blue Earth Area head coach Donna Nawrocki. “Once we start to piece together some of those individual improvements, the team results will come.”

After 15 consecutive losses, Nawrocki’s Bucs snapped all the pieces to the volleyball puzzle into place to garner their first victory of the season — a hard-fought 25-20, 22-25, 25-13, 20-25, 15-12 Big South decision over the Fairmont Cardinals on Thursday night in Fairmont.

“I was happy with the way our players fought for each other tonight and bonded as a team. That was a positive sign for us,” said Nawrocki.

Sophie Johnson reeled off a key three-point service stint to stake the Cardinals to a 7-3 lead in Game 5, with sophomore 6-footer Cassidy Schultz pounding down one of her match-best 14 kills off one of Sabrina Segar’s 29 set assists, but the youthful Bucs did not throw in the proverbial towel.

Liz Beeler, who doled out a match-high 31 set assists, dumped a perfectly-timed ace tip inside the 10-foot line to regain possession at 8-5 for BEA.

Sophomore Brita Hougen, who delivered 13 kills, displayed her serving touch by assembling a pivotal four-point run, with freshman Alicia Machacek drilling one of her 13 kills to cap the run at 9-8.

The two rivals battled to ties at 10, 11 and 12 before Heidi Herrmann converted a Beeler set for a clutch sideout kill at 12-all.

Miya Gustafson then rotated to the backline and reeled off Game 5’s final three points to seal the Bucs’ victory. Hougen and Herrmann cranked back-to-back kills before Gustafson delivered the match-winner via an ace serve.

Ironically, Gustafson served out the final three points of the Bucs’ Game 1 win, while Chloe Murphy produced a momentum-gaining eight-point service run to trigger the Cardinals’ Game 2 victory.

Beeler’s late five-point service run combined with four Machacek kills to spark BEA’s Game 3 win before Fairmont’s spiking trio of Natalie Tonne, Kylee Harder and Schultz blasted the home team to a Game 4 triumph.

Harder finished with 10 kills and seven set assists for the Cardinals, while Cambrie Anderson chipped in seven kills.

Fairmont (4-16) travels to St. Peter on Tuesday night, while Blue Earth Area (1-15) plays host to the Buc Invite at 9 a.m. Saturday at United South Central High School in Wells due to damage to the Blue Earth Area High School gymnasium floor.

Fairmont downed Blue Earth Area in the B-squad match, 25-10, 25-16, Thursday night in Fairmont.

Brittney Mosloski drilled five kills, Mikayla Fitzloff went 14 of 14 serving with two aces, Jaya Johnson made 10 digs and Kynlie Anderson doled out five set assists.

Anna Ehlert served 9 of 9 and doled out four set assists to help guide Fairmont to a 25-11, 25-17 win over Blue Earth Area during C-squad play Thursday night in Fairmont.

Makayla Javers produced four ace serves and three kills for the Cardinals, Hadley Artz cranked three kills and Ashley Bell went 7 of 7 serving to complement distributing four set assists.

Alden-Conger 3, Martin Luther/ Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman 0 — The Knights caged the Jaguars, 25-15, 25-3, 31-29, in Valley Conference volleyball action Thursday night in Northrop.

Michaelah Petrowiak led the Jaguars with 12 kills, while teammate Lydia Steinhaus dished out 21 set assists.

Kambria Steinhaus led the Jaguar defense with 19 digs and Marah Engel added 16 digs.

The Jaguars (6-12, 4-4 Valley) play at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Blue Earth Area Invitational, which will be played at United South Central in Wells.

Luverne 3, Martin County West 0 — The Cardinals soared by the Mavericks 25-20, 25-22, 25-18, in a nonconference volleyball matchup Thursday night in Trimont.

Emily Dunlop led the Maverick offense with six kills and added three blocks.

Taylor Elliott anchored the Martin County West defense with 10 digs, while Jenna Clow and Shaylynn Anderson each had seven.

Anderson also connected on three ace serves and led the Mavericks with eight set assists, while Bella Bicknase had seven assists.

The Mavericks (5-14) travel to Windom Area for a nonconference match at 7:15 p.m. Monday night.

Estherville-Lincoln Central 3, North Union 0 — The Midgets flattened the Warriors, 25-19, 25-21, 25-19, in a nonconference volleyball match Thursday night in Armstrong.

May Laverty led the Warriors with eight kills and added nine digs, while serving 13-for-15 and blocking three spikes.

Chloe Lofstrom added five kills and contributed a co-team leading 12 digs, while teammate Olivia Von Bank also produced 12 digs defensively and hit 10 of 11 successful serves.

Lily Henderson led the Warriors with 18 set assists.

North Union (3-21) travels to Garner-Hayfield-Ventura for a 7 p.m. matchup Tuesday night.