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Windom Area zips Fairmont in 3AA volleyball match

ELEVATING TEAMMATES — Fairmont teammates Jazlyn Geerdes (8) and Corene Moeller (4) elevate to block a tip by Windom Area hitter Elliot Espenson (7) during their Section 3AA, Round 1 volleyball postseason clash on Friday night in Windom. The Eagles’ Makenna McNamara (5) and Kameron Rupp (11), along with the Cardinals’ Kynlie Anderson (3), watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

WINDOM — Tristyn Maras produced match-bests of 12 kills and five blocks to power Windom Area’s multi-faceted spiking attack to a three-game sweep over Fairmont during Friday night’s Section 3AA, Round 1 volleyball clash in Windom.

Hannah Dauer, Leah Hauge, Elliot Espenson and Kameron Rupp each supplied six spike-winners to steer the balanced No. 3-seeded Eagles to straight game wins of 25-15, 25-21, 25-8 over the No. 6-seeded Cardinals.

Windom Area (18-10) advances to play host to No. 7-seeded Montevideo (5-16) in a 7 p.m. sectional quarterfinal on Tuesday night back at Windom. The Thunder Hawks stunned No. 2-seeded Jackson County Central (18-12) in a five-game slugfest, 15-25, 25-17, 25-19, 13-25, 19-17.

Fairmont ended its season with a 5-19 record.

Maras utilized her sizzling kill stroke from the outside hitting position to generate four kills during Windom Area’s opener, while Dauer literally tipped her way to four kills and Hauge cranked three point-winning drives.

Ironically, Makenna McNamara — who rotates at setter with Charlee Huska in the Eagles’ 6-2 offense — bookended the Game 1 victory from the service line. McNamara opened with a 3-0 run, tallied two more during her second stint at the end line and delivered the home team’s game-sealing 25th point.

“All of our opponents know about Maras’ hitting ability on the outside, so we’ve worked on moving a lot players around so we have multiple options to choose from when we attack,” said Windom Area head coach Crystal Fast. “Both of our setters (McNamara and Huska) do a nice job of distributing the ball to all of our hitters and know who has the hot hand at the time.”

After Dauer flipped an ace tip off one of Huska’s 13 set assists for a sideout at 21-14 in Game 1, Dauer rotated to the end line and received frontline firepower from Espenson during the stretch run.

Espenson smacked one kill and recorded two of her three blocks on the match, including the game-clinching point with McNamara at the line.

Maras and the Cardinals’ Jazlyn Geerdes — who drilled a team-high seven kills to complement four blocks — traded blasts above the net to produce a tie at 6-all during Game 2’s early stages before Maras made her spiking presence known.

The 5-foot-10 junior hammered a back-row kill off a Huska set to send Dauer back to the service area. Dauer generated four of her 10 points on the match to create a 10-6 lead for Windom Area.

Geerdes, Olivia Ortega and Grace Pendergast each answered kills by Hauge and Rupp, while Fairmont’s Brylee Miller countered Espenson’s frontline shots to keep the No. 6-seeded lineup within 22-19 in Game 2.

Espenson, however, batted down a Cardinal overpass for a sideout at 23-19 before Maras peppered a down-the-line kill off one of McNamara’s match-best 18 assists to put the Eagles in the driver’s seat at 24-21. Huska then lined a service ace to put Windom Area ahead two games to none.

Maras unleashed three kills and three rejections, while Espenson notched three spike-winners to fuel McNamara’s Game 3-opening 4-0 run, Hadley Sammons’ eight-point surge and Abbi Zieske’s pivotal 9-0 service streak.

After Maras’ cross-court conversion of a McNamara loft halted Fairmont hitter Olivia Ortega’s four-point service performance at 14-6, Zieske reeled off nine consecutive points — including four aces — to build a 23-6 margin for Windom Area.

“Abbi is such a great leader and knows her role on the team,” said Fast. “My goal is to get her into the match so she can contribute as a backrow specialist and server, and that’s what she did again tonight.”

After an errant Fairmont serve gave Windom Area a 24-8 lead on the scoreboard, Huska served her third ace of the match to close out the Game 3 win and 3-0 overall sweep.

Sammons and McNamara each served 11 points for the Eagles on 16 of 17 and 16 of 16 efforts, respectively.

Miller delivered six kills and three blocks for the Cardinals, while Pendergast and Kynlie Anderson distributed eight set assists each.

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