Gerber guides Trojans to volleyball sweep over Cardinals
FAIRMONT — Addison Gerber, Jayden Spartz and Madeline Petersen served out all three of Worthington’s volleyball victories during their Big South Conference sweep of Fairmont at Cardinal Gym on Thursday night.
Gerber reeled off seven straight to cap the Trojans’ 25-13 opening win, Spartz’s six-point string sparked a 25-20 Game 2 comeback triumph and Petersen closed out a 25-8 Game 3 victory with three in a row after serving seven consecutive to build an early 9-1 lead.
“We’ve been either ‘on’ or ‘off,’ and tonight we finally hit the ‘on’ button for three (games) in a row,” said Worthington heach coach Courtney Opdahl, whose lineup evened its record at .500 at 3-3 overall. “Obviously we served well, and it also was good to see Addi (Gerber) connecting with each of our hitters. She did a good job of evenly distributing the sets to keep the defense guessing.”
Ironically, Fairmont sophomore middle hitter Brylee Miller and setter Grace Pendergast combined from both spiking and serving perspectives to build an 8-4 lead over Worthington in Game 1.
Miller blasted two of her team-leading eight kills during Pendergast’s service stint before Miller connected for a pair of aces at the line.
Spartz and Gerber — who will take her volleyball skills set to Morningside College next season — finally clicked on all cylinders as the 5-foot-9 junior outside spiker nailed one of her 10 kills off one of Gerber’s match-high 31 set assists down the line for a pivotal sideout at 10-6.
Natya Khamphanh then rotated to the end line and knotted the opener, with Spartz blistering a cross-court stinger off a Gerber loft.
Spartz later created a narrow lead with two service aces to trigger a three-point run at 14-11. Nevaeh Rahm cashed in a Pendergast assist for a sideout kill for the Cardinals before Gerber seized the momentum for good in Game 1.
Gerber fed Janessa Hamann for an ace tap for a Trojan sideout before Gerber rotated to the end line at 18-13 and did not exit until Point 25. Hamann chipped in a tip kill, while 6-foot Madison Beckmann jackhammered a quick set and later rejected a Fairmont blast to close out the 12-point margin of victory.
Pendergast and Miller utilized their solid serving skills to transform an early 4-0 lead into an eventual 19-15 gap, but Worthington would counter behind spikes from Saige Scheepstra.
Spartz’s quick-wrist crank off a Gerber back-set created a Trojan sideout trailing 20-19 before Spartz moved to the end line. Scheepstra connected for a slide spike and a quick drive, with Hamann adding a conversion off a Gerber shoot assist to fuel Spartz’s game-sealing six-point surge.
Petersen subbed into the rotation during the Trojans’ second spot in Game 3 and reeled off seven momentum-seizing points to build a 9-1 lead. Beckmann and Spartz each delivered front-row offensive damage above the net to trigger the run before Miller’s block finally halted the run.
Gerber then displayed her athleticism by later flipping a jump back-set for an ace tip to thwart Fairmont’s late comeback bid at 18-7.
Gerber then drilled three consecutive service aces for a 21-7 lead before Ellie Ortega answered for the Cardinals with a down-the-line ace drive.
Beckmann utilized her spring-like vertical leap to pound down a kill and a block, while Petersen served a pair of aces to close out the 17-point margin of victory in Game 3.
Pendergast finished with a team-best eight set assists for the Cardinals.
Petersen went 18 of 18 serving with a match-best 14 points for the Trojans, while Beckmann topped the hitting attack with 12 kills and four blocks. Hamann and Scheepstra rounded out the balanced performance with seven and six kills, respectively.
Fairmont (2-7) plays host to Waseca on Monday night at Cardinal Gym in another league match, while Worthington (3-3) competes in the Jackson County Central Invitational at 9 a.m. Saturday in Jackson.