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Cougars claw Mavericks in 2A volleyball quarterfinal

ELEVATING — Martin County West’s Emily Anderson (9) leaps to reject a tip by Cedar Mountain setter Nadia Meyers (2) during their Section 2A quarterfinal volleyball match Tuesday night at St. Peter High School. The Cougars’ Cloey Wildt (5) and Maverick coach Kayla Zehms (back) look on. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ST. PETER — Nadia Meyers proved an unstoppable double-edged weapon for the No. 2-seeded Cedar Mountain volleyball lineup on Tuesday night.

Meyers utilized her 5-foot-9 frame to distribute a match-best 32 set assists and knocked down eight kills for good measure to help power the Cougars to a 25-21, 25-6, 25-23 sweep over the No. 3-seeded Martin County West Mavericks during their Section 2A quarterfinal clash at St. Peter High School.

Cedar Mountain (21-9) advances to face the South Sub-Section’s No. 1 seed Cleveland in the sectional semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night at Mankato East High School. Cleveland claimed three consecutive games to eliminate No. 5-seeded Springfield in Tuesday night’s other quarterfinal match.

Martin County West ended its season with a 14-15 record.

“When we brought her up to the varsity as an eighth-grader, she started out as a middle (hitter),” Cedar Mountain head coach Beth Hill said in reference to Meyers. “But by the middle of that season we moved her to setter and she’s been there for five years.

“Because of her height and starting out as a hitter, I think that’s why she reads the floor so well and can also cover the net.”

Emily Anderson pounded four kills and Lucy Larson drilled three spike-winners to help the Mavericks match frontline firepower with the Cougars’ Hailey Hollar and Aubrey Steffl during Game 1.

Despite trailing by three for the majority of the opener, Lina Arnold’s two-point serving stint and Anderson’s back-to-back blocks helped MCW knot the score at 12-all.

Hollar countered with two of her match-best 13 kills off of shoot sets from Meyers to take her spikes down the line to later grab a 16-14 lead for Cedar Mountain.

A rare Cougars’ missed serve allowed Anderson to rotate to the end line for the Mavericks and the sophomore middle hitter generated three points to put MCW in the driver’s seat at 18-16.

Meyers, however, seemed to have the setting and serving solutions for Cedar Mountain and regained a 20-19 lead by finding Steffl for two more kills.

The Mavericks’ Larson and the Cougars’ Mykenna Vollmer exchanged sizzling spikes to keep the game close at 21-20 before Meyers recorded a pivotal block for a 22-20 edge in Game 1.

Vollmer demonstrated her court vision by pushing a two-handed ace to the vacated right corner of the MCW defense for a clutch sideout kill at 24-21. The Mavericks then missed a backrow attack to exit the hardwood floor with a four-point opening loss.

Game 2 belonged to Cedar Mountain teammates Teresa Larsen and Vollmer in the air space above the net.

Libero Lauren Baringer reeled off seven unanswered service points, with the Larsen-quick kill-from-Meyers connection triggering the offensive avalanche.

Larsen unleashed three quick-reflex spike-winners off Meyers’ timely low sets before Anderson converted one of Maverick setter Grace Bicknase’s team-best 18 assists for a sideout at 7-1.

Larsen’s laser kill off another Meyers’ set rotated Meyers to the end line and the Cedar Mountain senior playmaker tacked on four more points to build a 12-1 lead. Vollmer worked the right outside hitting position to convert Meyers’ back sets to fuel the run.

Steffl later assembled a six-point service stint to reach 19-3 before Cougar teammate Cloey Wildt came off the bench to pace an eventual 25-6 Game 2 victory. Wildt combined an ace tip, a block and the game-sealing ace push shot during the final six plays for a 2-0 match lead.

“Once we got our passing back on track to open Game 2, we were able to run our quicks and that changed the momentum of the match,” said Hill.

Despite trailing 10-5, 16-11 and 20-14 in Game 3, MCW middle hitter Bella Lange, Anderson and Bicknase did not throw in the proverbial towel.

With Anderson at the end line serving, Lange delivered back-to-back blocks before Aspen Kosbab hammered a Bicknase set for a kill. Lange added one of her team-best nine kills before Bicknase took an overpass and drilled it cross-court for a tying kill at 20-20.

Steffl and Meyers worked their frontline magic for a critical sideout kill at 21-20 before Meyers’ ace tip — combined with a quick kill from Larsen and another Larsen rejection — inched Cedar Mountain within one of a Game 3 win at 24-20.

Lange answered with a sideout kill before Bicknase served up two points to whittle the Mavericks’ deficit to 24-23, but Larsen’s block closed out the Cougars’ three-game sweep at 25-23.

Anderson finished with eight kills, Larson tallied six and Bicknase chipped in five for MCW.

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