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MCW sweeps Loyola out of volleyball playoffs

DIGGING IT UP — Martin County West libero Jenna Clow (left) digs up a Mankato Loyola spike during a Section 2A, South Sub-Section play-in volleyball match Monday night in Trimont. Martin County West’s Taylor Elliott watches the play. The Mavericks went on to sweep the Crusaders in three consecutive games. (Photo by Greg Abel)

TRIMONT — Jenna Clow stands a mere 5 foot, 3 inches tall, but Martin County West’s senior libero made a huge impact in Monday night’s Section 2A, South Sub-Section volleyball play-in match.

Clow delivered a pivotal nine-point service run to shift the momentum in the hometown Mavericks’ direction during the late stages of Game 1 in Trimont.

No. 8-seeded Martin County West proceeded to stampede to a 25-14, 25-10, 25-17 sweep over the No. 9-seeded Mankato Loyola Crusaders during first-round playoff action.

Martin County West (8-19) advances to square off against No. 1-seeded and Class A No. 2-ranked Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (28-2) in a South Sub-Section quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Waterville.

After the Crusaders and Mavericks battled to their ninth tie of the opening game at 11-all, MCW middle hitter Gabby Lange delivered back-to-back defensive gems by rejecting a pair of Loyola spikes before Addison Fraze countered with a sideout kill for the visitors.

Sami Meyer cranked one of setter Shaylynn Anderson’s match-best 15 assists for a key sideout kill to stake the Mavericks to a narrow 14-12 lead, and more importantly, rotate Clow into the back row.

“She (Clow) doesn’t realize how much of an influence she is every time she steps onto the court during a game,” said MCW head coach Hilary Elliott. “Her serving, passing and digging can swing the momentum in our direction in a hurry, and she’s a big part of that.”

Clow did exactly that, lining home nine consecutive points from the service area to build an insurmountable 23-12 Game 1 lead for the Mavericks.

Emily Dunlop triggered the avalanche of points by drilling a Loyola overpass to the hardwood court before Meyer recorded one of her match-best nine kills off an Anderson set to cause Loyola head coach Dave Nixon to call timeout.

The short recess did not deter Clow as she followed a Crusader hitting error out of the break with a service ace before Dunlop smacked a stinging spike to the floor off another Anderson loft.

Clow followed another Loyola hitting error with back-to-back service aces before a rotation overlap on the Crusaders widened MCW’s margin to 11.

Logan Kosbab later hammered a down-the-line ace kill from the left outside hitting position off a Bella Bicknase set to cap the 25-14 Game 1 victory.

Lange, who produced a match-best four blocks, smacked down one of her five kills on the night for an early sideout to open Game 2.

Taylor Elliott then made her presence known for MCW by delivering a three-point serving run, including back-to-back aces, before Fraze answered with a sideout spike-winner at 4-1.

Lange quickly regained possession for the Mavericks by recording a block before Clow reeled off four more critical points from the line for a commanding 9-1 margin. Dunlop delivered two kills to highlight the run.

Ahead 17-9, Anderson rotated to the end line and nearly served out Game 2 with a six-point string. Taylor Elliott pounded two Anderson assists for kills, Meyer cranked one more and Anderson notched three consecutive service aces for a 23-9 lead.

Meyer then converted back-to-back Anderson sets for a sideout kill and then a down-the-line ace kill from the right outside hitting position to seal the 25-10 win.

Anderson picked up in Game 3 where she left off in the middle contest, serving the Mavericks out to a quick 3-0 lead.

Kosbab and Dunlop later contributed three- and four-point service stints, respectively, to create an eventual 17-10 cushion.

Sami Naples cashed in a pair of set assists from Zoey Weller to help inch the Crusaders within 21-17, but a Loyola hitting error allowed Grace Bicknase to step to the end line for MCW. Bicknase served out the final three points to complete the Mavericks’ sweep.

Clow generated 17 points behind 19-for-22 serving to complement 10 digs for the Mavericks, while Anderson tallied 10 points on 14-for-15 serving to go with her 15 set assists.

Kosbab led MCW’s back-row effort with 11 digs to go with six kills, while Taylor Elliott produced seven digs, six kills and six points on 10 for 11 serving.

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