In a battle between two top-ranked programs, the Marshall volleyball team recovered from a sloppy first set and battled back to defeat Bethlehem Academy 20-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-13 in a non-conference match Friday night in Faribault.
The Cardinals (ranked No. 1 in Class A) had swept the Tigers (the top team in Class AA) each of the past two seasons, and Friday they got off to a promising start by taking the opening set. But where in the past two years Marshall was unable to lock down and win close sets, the Tigers found the ability to do so in the second and third sets of Friday's match before dominating Bethlehem Academy in the fourth set to seal the victory.
"We kind of gave away too many points in the first set," said Marshall head coach Dan Westby. "They went on two long runs on us and we just gave away too many points.
"Then I thought in both the second and third sets, they were pretty even all the way through and we were just able to clean up those errors. The thing that we were happy to see was the kids really battled hard at the end of sets and found a way to win."
Junior Kenzie Beekman led the charge for the Tigers with 20 kills and 13 digs. Sydney Griffin had 24 set assists and eight kills, and was also 15-for-15 serving with two aces. Maci Louwagie also had a strong night serving for Marshall, going 26 of 26 with two aces.
Hannah Bennett anchored the defense in the back row for Marshall with 13 digs, but Westby said he was most impressed with the defense he saw up at the net.
"We did a good job blocking and that hasn't been a real good skill for us the last few years," he said. It was good to see the kids get up and block the ball."
Callie Graff led the defense up front with four ace blocks, Louwagie and Beekman each had three, and Griffin added two.
The Cardinals entered the match following a loss to Lakeville North on Tuesday. Westby said the defending Class A champions battled hard on Friday and made the Tigers earn their win.
"They're a good team," he said. "That's a tough place to play. They have a good crowd, which is good for our kids to be put in that kind of atmosphere, especially early in the season."
The Tigers (2-0 overall) wrap up their three-match road trip to start the season on Tuesday when they travel to Fairmont.
Marshall20 26 25 25
BA25 24 23 13
MARSHALL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Serving (good-att-aces): Maci Louwagie 26-26-2, Sydney Griffin 15-15-2, Hannah Bennett 13-13-1.
Kills: Kenzie Beekman 20, Griffin 8, Louwagie 4, Angela Tauer 4.
Digs: Bennett 13, Beekman 13.
Set Assists: Griffin 24, Rachel Sannow 14.
Blocks: Louwagie 3, Callie Graff 4, Beekman 3, Sydney Griffin 2.