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Jaguars foil Crusaders’ quest, 3-1

CRUSHIN’ IT — Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain middle hitter Madisen Lewis crushes an assist from Jaguar setter Hayley Stensland (17) for a kill during Valley Conference volleyball action against Mankato Loyola on Tuesday night in Northrop. Jaguars’ outside hitter Londyn Bowers (far right) watches the spike. (Photo by Greg Abel)

NORTHROP — Truman/Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain’s three-pronged balanced spiking attack produced 30 kills and four blocks to trigger a 3-1 Valley Conference comeback volleyball victory over the Mankato Loyola Crusaders on Tuesday night.

Londyn Bowers and Brianna Petrowiak each pounded a match-leading dozen kills, while teammate Madisen Lewis delivered six spike-winners and four ace blocks to engineer the Jaguars’ 18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-12 winning decision in Northrop.

“We’re young, and youth can be its own worst enemy sometimes,” said Jaguar head coach TJ Williams. “We (coaching staff) are working on instilling more confidence in our players and hopefully we’ll develop more consistency as the season goes on.”

The Crusaders combined four kills from freshman hitter Maddie Huiras with four assists from sophomore setter Sammy Kann to help pace their opening 25-18 set victory before the Jaguars answered the challenge in Set 2.

Brianna Petrowiak rotated to the end line and reeled off four aces to literally serve as the catalyst behind a five-point offensive surge and early 7-3 lead for the home team in Set 2.

Clinging to an 18-14 lead, Bowers drilled a sizzling cross-court kill off one of Hayley Stensland’s co-match best 17 set assists to regain possession for the Jaguars.

Stensland then created a little more breathing space for the purple-and-black attack with a three-point service stint. Brianna Petrowiak later delivered the pivotal sideout kill before Johnnie Zaharia served the final point to tie the match at a set apiece via the 25-18 win.

Ella Nagorske, who doled out a co-match best 17 set assists, displayed her proficiency at the service line in Set 3. Nagorske generated five of her 13 match points to stake the Jaguars to a quick 6-2 advantage.

Lydia Klaseus pounded out three kills to help the Crusaders counter the frontline firepower of Lewis and Brianna Petrowiak midway through Set 3 before the Zaharia twins slammed the brakes on Loyola’s late run.

Gracie Zaharia dropped to the hardwood court a perfectly-timed tip off a Stensland set for a key sideout before Johnnie Zaharia generated three crucial points at the line to garner a 22-19 lead for the Jaguars. Lewis swatted down one Loyola spike and pounded a kill to help fuel the scoring spree.

Clinging to another narrow lead at 22-21, Bowers displayed her impressive vertical leap by steering a Nagorske assist down the line for a pivotal sideout kill at 23-21. Stensland served the final two points, paced by an ace and Lewis’ rejection of a Crusader overpass.

After battling back-and-forth to a 9-7 lead in Set 4, Nagorske assembled a crucial five-point run — including three service aces — to double the gap on Loyola, 14-7.

An errant Crusader serve at 16-10 opened the door for Johnnie Zaharia and the senior strung together a six-point outburst to put the set out of reach at 22-10. Bowers jackhammered three kills and Lewis delivered another ace block to pack punch to the scoring surge.

Bowers ricocheted a rifled rocket down the line for a sideout kill at 23-12 before Stensland aced out Set 4 and the match victory.

Johnnie Zaharia led the Jaguars’ backrow defense with 18 digs, while Nagorske contributed 12 to the effort. Johnnie Zaharia also topped the home team with 14 service points.

Kann doled out 14 set assists for Loyola, while Huiras and Klaseus finished with 10 and eight kills, respectively.

The Jaguars (2-7) travel to St. Clair on Thursday night for another conference match.

Blue Earth Area 3, St. James Area 0 — Taylor Klabunde smacked three kills, made six digs and generated 10 points, including two aces, on 15-for-16 serving to help guide the Bucs to a 25-22, 25-22, 25-17 sweep over the Saints on Tuesday night in Blue Earth.

Eloise Blair topped the BEA defense with 15 digs and tallied seven points, including an ace, behind 10-for-10 serving, while teammate Haley Kalis doled out 15 set assists and notched nine points, including two aces, on 14 of 15 serving.

Alicia Machacek blasted seven kills and two ace blocks for the Bucs, while Hailey Becker and Kylee Eckmann connected for six kills each. Becker also had two ace blocks.

Rylan Storbeck doled out five set assists for BEA, while Katherine Armon supplied three kills during the Big South Conference clash.

Blue Earth Area (2-4) travels to St. Peter on Thursday night.

New Ulm 3, Fairmont 0 — The Eagles topped the Cardinals in three straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-14, during Big South Conference action Tuesday night in New Ulm.

Brylee Miller made a team-best 20 digs, drilled three kills and served 6-for-6 to top Fairmont, while teammate Olivia Ortega supplied 12 digs and went 4 of 5 serving.

Jazlyn Geerdes hammered six kills and two ace blocks for the Cardinals, while Anna Ehlert scooped up 10 digs and served 11 of 12 at the line.

Kynlie Anderson dished out five set assists and served three aces behind an 11-for-11 performance for Fairmont, while Grace Pendergast also was 11 of 11 at the line with one ace to go with nine digs and three set assists.

Corene Moeller chipped in three kills and four digs for the red-and-white, while Chantel Moeller tallied six digs and two aces behind 5-for-5 serving.

Fairmont (2-9) travels to St. James Area on Thursday night.

Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 3, Martin County West 0 — The Knights collected the Valley Conference sweep by downing the Mavericks in straight sets, 25-14, 25-20, 25-22, Tuesday night in Lake Crystal.

Emily Anderson connected for a team-best seven kills, made nine digs and went 12-for-12 serving to pace MCW’s effort.

Lucy Larson smacked five kills, tallied seven digs and went 7 of 8 serving for the Mavericks, while Grace Bicknase doled out 17 set assists, made a team-best 10 digs and was 8 of 8 at the line.

Emma Omvig and Emily Schlettler chipped in nine digs each, while Lina Arnold added five.

Martin County West (3-4) plays host to Cleveland on Thursday night in Trimont in another league clash

Lake Mills 3, North Union 0 — Olivia Von Bank produced a team-best nine kills and made 12 digs to top the Warriors, but the Bulldogs exited Armstrong’s gymnasium with a 25-17, 25-17, 25-15 Top of Iowa Conference victory Tuesday night.

Libby Stevens distributed 18 set assists, served 13 of 13 and tallied eight digs for North Union, while Olivia Merrill smacked six kills and was 8 of 9 serving.

Ella Ulrich supplied a team-leading 14 digs and went 9 of 9 serving for the Warriors, while Emily Meyer contributed nine digs in the home team’s performance.

North Union (11-9) travels to West Bend, Iowa, on Monday night to face Bishop Garrigan and the host Wolverines in a triangular.

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