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Buc tennis team fends off Cardinals, 5-2

SEEING DOUBLES — Blue Earth Area’s McKenna Dutton (left) cranks a backhanded overhead blast for a winner as first doubles partner Kylie Rosenau looks on during BSC East Division tennis action Thursday in Fairmont. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont Cardinals accomplished a feat that no other girls tennis lineup had been able to achieve since the coronavirus-condensed season started — net a point against the unbeaten Blue Earth Area Bucs.

Blue Earth Area, however, proved why it regularly earns a spot in the Class A team state rankings year after year by posting a 5-2 Big South Conference East Division triumph over Fairmont on Thursday at the Cardinal Courts.

“I knew the meet with Fairmont would be competitive,” said Bucs head coach Konny Wolff, whose lineup improved to 6-0 overall. “Our girls kept talking about us beating everyone 7-0 through our first five meets, but I reminded them that our goal is to win as a team and it only takes four points.

“It was really good to see our third doubles team (Cali Beyer and Olivia Dutton) step up and win the fourth and decisive point today.”

Arika Howard, Addison Armstrong and Te’a Armstrong reeled off Blue Earth Area’s initial three team tallies from the singles bracket before Fairmont’s Briana Joseph halted the maroon-and-gold’s incredible consecutive match-winning string at 38 in a row.

“Briana did a great job of figuring out how to defeat a talented opponent (Marissa Benz) at second singles today,” said Fairmont head coach Laura Olsen.

After trailing Benz 4-3 and 5-4 in their opening set, Joseph assembled a good-to-the-last-shot comeback to edge her Buc rival in a rally-filled marathon 10th game before netting a 6-5 edge via a key service break.

Joseph’s drive-and-chip strategy paid dividends in a 7-5 first-set victory before closing out the team point with a 6-0 second-set decision over Benz.

Beyer, who suffered a bloody nose in the warmups due to an errant swing, and Olivia Dutton fended off the Cardinals’ hard-working duo of Libby Totzke and Hope Klanderud at No. 3 doubles.

Beyer and Olivia Dutton collected a hard-fought 6-4 first-set win over Libby Totzke and Klanderud before the Bucs’ tandem was extended to a dozen games in the second segment en route to netting a down-to-the-wire 7-5 victory.

Blue Earth Area’s first doubles combination of McKenna Dutton and Kylie Rosenau then rallied for a three-set win over Maggy Totzke and Lauren Davis for a 5-1 score on the team ledger.

Maggy Totzke and Davis registered a pivotal service break after building a 4-3 lead to garner the set decision at 6-3, but Dutton and Rosenau would rally.

Rosenau and Dutton threaded their shots through Totzke’s and Davis’ smothering court coverage to reel off a 6-2 second-set win and force a third set.

Totzke and Davis actually built a 4-3 edge on the scorecards before Dutton and Rosenau assembled a clutch three-game winning streak to cap a 6-4 third-set comeback.

Fairmont’s Emily Hagen and Ellie Hernes then reversed the scoring trend in their direction during No. 2 doubles to close out the dual meet.

Lyndsey Borris and Britt Howard rolled to a 6-3 opening-set win over Hagen and Hernes before the Cardinals’ tandem earned a critical service break in Game 10 of the second set. Trailing 5-4, Hagen found a cross-court angle for a winner to trigger an eventual 6-5 lead. Hernes and Hagen then claimed Game 12 to even the match at one set apiece.

Hagen and Hernes found their rhythm and rattled off a 6-1 third-set victory to pocket the Cardinals’ second team tally.

“We expected Blue Earth (Area) to be the most competitive program we’ve played so far, and we were looking to win a point here and there if we could,” said Olsen. “I told the girls that no matter how it falls today, we go out and play as competitively as we can and that’s all we can do.

“Consistency and grit are the two words we talk about all the time, and I think we demonstrated those two aspects today.”

Arika Howard and Addison Armstrong netted the Bucs’ first two team points by shutting out their opponents 6-0, 6-0 at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, respectively. Addison Armstrong topped Fairmont freshman Abi Peyman, who made the transition from No. 4 to No. 3, while Howard downed Anika Haugen — who made the move from the doubles bracket.

Te’a Armstrong reversed last year’s results by defeating the Cardinals’ Claire Nemmers in a closer-than-the-score-indicated 6-2, 6-3 first-singles decision.

Fairmont (4-2) travels to Schroeder Courts Monday for a 4:30 p.m. dual against Blue Earth Area (6-0).

Varsity Results

B.E. Area 5, Fairmont 2

Singles Bracket

• Te’a Armstrong (BEA) def. Claire Nemmers, 6-2, 6-3.

• Briana Joseph (FMT) def. Marissa Benz, 7-5, 6-0.

• Addison Armstrong (BEA) def. Abi Peyman, 6-0, 6-0.

• Arika Howard (BEA) def. Anika Haugen, 6-0, 6-0.

Doubles Bracket

• McKenna Dutton-Kylie Rosenau (BEA) def. Maggy Totzke-Lauren Davis, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

• Emily Hagen-Ellie Hernes (FMT) def. Lyndsey Borris-Britt Howard, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.

• Cali Beyer-Olivia Dutton (BEA) def. Libby Totzke-Hope Klanderud, 6-4, 7-5.

JV Results

Fairmont 4, BEA 2

Doubles Bracket

• Lilly Laven-Solveig Senf (FMT) won 4-0, 4-0.

• Meredith Nemmers-Brynn Gustafson (FMT) won 4-1, 4-0.

• Rachel O’Connor-Kaycie Brookens (FMT) won 4-1, 4-0.

• Elly Stegge-Jenna Spencer (FMT) won 4-0, 4-1.

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