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Jaguars dig way to victory over Cyclones

PUNCHING IT — Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman hitter Mallery Geistfeld (29) punches a quick set around St. Clair defender Madison Daly’s block during Valley Conference volleyball action Tuesday night in Truman. Jaguar teammate Josie Clow (8) watches the point-winning sideout kill. (Photo by Greg Abel)

TRUMAN — Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman middle hitter Mallery Geistfeld and outside spiker Johnnie Zaharia proved double-trouble for the St. Clair Cyclones on Tuesday night.

Geistfeld delivered a co-team best eight kills to complement a match-high eight blocks, while Zaharia smacked eight kills and scooped 14 digs to power the Jaguars to a 25-21, 25-21, 15-25, 25-18 Valley Conference volleyball victory over the visiting Cyclones in Truman.

“We (coaching staff) stress defense in practice all the time because we’re not exactly the tallest team,” Jaguar head coach TJ Williams said with a grin.

With 6-foot senior hitter Katelyn Diegnau not suited up due to an ankle injury, Geistfeld handled the Jaguars’ defensive duties in the air space above the net, while Zaharia and Kambria Steinhaus went to the hardwood floor in the back row to extend rallies.

Geistfeld chalked up two rejections, Zaharia drilled two kills and Josie Clow connected for four of her six kills to keep the Jaguars two points ahead at 18-16 in a back-and-forth opening game.

St. Clair’s Madison Daly converted one of Emily Bellig’s 17 set assists into a sliding kill for a key sideout, trailing 22-20, but the Cyclones could not draw even on the scoreboard.

Gracie Zaharia cashed in one of Ella Nagorske’s team-best 19 set assists for a pivotal sideout spike at 23-20 before twin sister Johnnie Zaharia delivered a service ace. Ironically, the two teams traded a hitting and a serving error, respectively, to end Game 1 with the Jaguars winning 25-21.

Hayley Stensland produced a clutch four-point service performance in another seesaw battle to double the Jaguars’ margin to 12-6 in Game 2. Emily Sokoloski contributed a pivotal block during the scoring run and later a rejection on a Cyclone overpass to rotate Clow to the line.

Johnnie Zaharia smacked back-to-back kills off sets by Nagorske to help Clow reel off four points to widen the gap to 17-10.

Sokoloski’s quick-reflex tip-over play near the net later inch the Jaguars to a 24-14 lead, but St. Clair outside hitter Lily Sonnek fired back with a kill off one of Caroline Schimek’s 22 set assists.

Bellig served six straight points for the Cyclones, with Sonnek unleashing four of her match-best 23 kills to whittle the Jaguars’ lead to a mere three points at 24-21. Ironically, a long serve gave the win to the home team for a 2-0 match lead.

Sonnek then delivered five more kills and teammate Alivia Clabo served the final three points of St. Clair’s 25-15 Game 3 triumph to extend the match.

Johnnie Zaharia’s cross-court kills off sets from Nagorske and Stensland more than doubled the home team’s Game 4 lead at 17-8, but Sonnek would storm the Cyclones back within striking distance at 23-17.

Londyn Bowers cashed in a Nagorske set assist to finally stem Sonnek’s three-point serving string before Nagorske recorded the game- and match-sealing block.

Steinhaus finished with a match-best 27 digs for the Jaguars (7-16), who travel to Mountain Lake Area on Thursday night.

St. Clair (7-16) travels to Lake Crystal on Monday night.

St. Peter 3, Fairmont 0 — The Saints captured consecutive game decisions of 25-14, 25-23, 25-14 to sweep the Cardinals in Big South Conference action Tuesday night in St. Peter.

Cassidy Schultz cranked eight kills and made 14 digs to pace Fairmont’s effort, while Brittney Mosloski collected seven kills, nine digs and went 7 of 8 serving.

Kynlie Anderson distributed 12 set assists and served 12-for-12 for the Cardinals, while teammate Grace Pendergast contributed nine set assists, seven digs and a 9-for-10 service effort.

Olivia Ortega made 20 digs and went 8-for-9 serving for Fairmont, Emily Frank smacked four kills, while Vanessa Bliesmer served 9 of 9 and added five digs.

Fairmont (8-12-1) travels to Jackson County Central on Monday night.

St. James Area 3, Blue Earth Area 0 — The Saints squeezed out wins of 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 to shut out the Bucs during Big South Conference action Tuesday night in Blue Earth.

Liz Beeler distributed 14 set assists, made six digs and generated six points, including a pair of aces, on 12-for-12 serving for BEA.

Brita Hougen and Hailey Becker each smacked six kills for the Bucs, while Eloise Blair and Haley Kalis supplied 10 and eight digs, respectively.

Taylor Klabunde, Alicia Machacek and Maci Frommie each chipped in three kills, while Kalis dished out four set assists.

Klabunde also produced nine points, including two aces, on 15-for-16 serving, while Becker served 10 of 12 for seven points, including three aces.

Blue Earth Area (1-21-1) plays host to Mankato Loyola on Thursday night.

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