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Bowers powers St. James Area spikers by Fairmont, 3-2

SAVING DIG — Fairmont’s Maddy Schwieger makes a saving dig off of a St. James Area spike during Big South Conference volleyball action Saturday at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Cardinal teammates Cassidy Schultz (left) and Jaya Johnson watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Maddie Brey eclipsed the 1,000 career assist mark during Game 3, but her 42nd and final one to middle hitter Addie Bowers iced St. James Area’s good-to-the-fifth-game victory over Fairmont on Saturday.

Fairmont’s 1-2 offensive punch of Brittney Mosloski and Cassidy Schultz combined equally for eight kills to power the hometown Cardinals to a 25-20 Game 1 win before the Saints answered behind the spiking of Bowers and Allie Malmgren to post back-to-back 25-22 decisions in Games 2 and 3.

Mosloski and Schultz combined for nine spike-winners to reverse the Big South Conference volleyball match’s momentum in Fairmont’s direction in the form of another 25-20 victory during Game 4 to force a fifth and final clash at Cardinal Gym.

Chloe Mickelson, who went 22 of 24 at the line, displayed her deft serving touch by generating three of her 14 points to build an early 4-1 Game 5 lead for the Saints. Brey fueled the scoring run behind a diversified hitting attack, featuring kills from Malmgren, Kelsey Grunewald and Taylor Sodeman, respectively.

Schultz delivered one of her match-high six blocks and Mosloski later hammered one of her match-best 23 kills to keep the Cardinals close at 7-all before Bowers dominated the air space above the net during the stretch run.

Malmgren cashed in a Brey set assist for a sideout kill at 8-7 before Malmgren rotated to the service area. Malmgren reeled off seven unanswered points around two Fairmont timeouts, with Bowers and Mickelson cranking two kills apiece to inch St. James Area within one of a Game 5 win.

A sideout Saints’ serve gave the Cardinals a narrow window of opportunity trailing 14-7 as Sabrina Segar made the transition from setter to hitter to blast a Kaitlyn Scott assist for Fairmont’s ninth point.

Bowers, however, elevated and jackhammered Brey’s final set assist for an echoing kill to close out Game 5 at 15-9 in the Saints’ favor.

“No. 7 (Bowers) really stepped up her game during Game 5 today,” said Fairmont head coach Kim Breamer. “We knew what was coming — we just couldn’t get to the block soon enough or dig it (her spike) up in time.

“We got off to a fast start and took them to five (games) today, and that’s one more than the last time we played them, so we’re making progress.”

Trailing 2-1 on the games ledger, libero Madysen Allen provided a mini-run from the service area to create some breathing room at 9-4 for the Cardinals in Game 4.

Bowers later drilled two service aces and picked up a Mickelson-from-Brey kill to whittle the Saints’ deficit to 12-10 before Scott spotted Mosloski for a sideout drive.

Segar, who matched Scott by doling out 23 set assists on the match, assembled a pivotal three-point service stint to create a 16-10 advantage. Mosloski and Schultz notched a kill and a rejection, respectively, to pace the short scoring spree.

Mickelson’s three-point serving effort narrowed the gap to 18-15 for St. James Area before Schultz slammed down a Scott set to stem the tide.

Maddy Schwieger and Mosloski connected for spike-winners to offset Bowers and Malmgren during Game 4’s stretch run to claim a 25-20 Fairmont victory and force Game 5.

Natalie Tonne contributed nine kills and three blocks to the Cardinals’ performance, Schultz chipped in nine kills and Bryn Miller added four kills and three rejections.

Bowers collected a team-best 13 kills for the Saints, Malmgren garnered 10 spike-winners, while Mickelson and Sodeman chipped in eight kills apiece. Brey added a 17-for-19 serving effort with eight points to complement her match-best 42 set assists.

Fairmont (1-6) closes out the regular season by traveling to Waseca on Tuesday night.

Fairmont downed St. James Area in B-squad action, 25-19, 25-17, 15-7, Saturday at Cardinal Gym.

Jazlyn Geerdes collected 10 digs and three kills for the Cardinals, while Anna Ehlert served five aces and made four digs.

Kynlie Anderson distributed 10 set assists, served three of Fairmont’s 13 aces and produced 13 of the team’s 42 digs.

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