MARSHALL - In the first round of the 7th annual Molten Southwest Minnesota Challenge volleyball tournament Friday in Marshall, two area teams were among the top 8 that went unscathed in competition play, while others fell to lower brackets.
With 14 of the 32 participating teams currently ranked or receiving votes in their respective classes, advancing to the championship bracket in the premiere tournament is no easy task. But tournament host Marshall, the No. 1 ranked team in Class AA, breezed past BOLD, 25-9, 25-15 Friday at Marshall High School to earn a matchup with Owatonna. Kenzie Beekman paced the Tigers with 14 kills and 14 digs, while Sydney Griffin added 14 set assists and nine digs.
"I thought our kids, really in both matches, served tough," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. "In that first match against BOLD, I think we maybe got them on their heels a little bit early. I thought we also passed the ball well."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Marshall junior outside hitter Kenzie Beekman rises up for a hit during the Tigers’ match against Owatonna during the Southwest Minnesota Challenge at Marshall High School. Marshall won the match 25-19, 25-16.
Though much closer, Marshall also got the best of Owatonna, by scores of 25-19, 25-16.
"We went through a stretch in that second match against Owatonna where I thought we maybe relaxed a little bit," Westby said. "And Owatonna is a good team. When they saw that, I thought they came back and made the score a little bit closer. But it was two big wins for us. Both of those teams were in the state tournament last year. And, both teams have a lot of players back."
Angela Tauer was solid from behind the serving line against the Huskies, going 17-for-18 with five aces. Maci Louwagie also closed out the match with a 13-for-13 performance with two ace serves. At the net, Beekman hammered down a team-high 16 kills, while Griffin added six. Rachel Sanow chipped in with a team-high 15 set assists.
"It's a great measuring stick for everybody early in the season," Westby said. "Everybody gets to see where they're at and what they need to get better at. It's certainly good for us."
Next up for Marshall is Class AAA 10th-ranked Wayzata, a match scheduled for 10:45 a.m. today at Marshall High School.
"That's one of the things we like about this tournament, you're going to play five quality teams throughout, and that's good for us," Westby said. "It doesn't matter who you play, it's going to be tough. Hopefully our kids will come out and be ready to play (Saturday)."
While Chaska (Class AAA's sixth-ranked team) faces Jamestown (N.D.) and 2011 tournament champion Lakeville North (No. 1-ranked in Class AAA) matches up against Waconia (Class AAA, seventh-ranked), Class A fourth-ranked Minneota will meet up with Hopkins at 10:45 a.m. at MHS.
"We're looking forward to (Saturday)," Minneota head coach Steph Hennen said. "It was a good team effort (Friday)."
The Vikings disposed of Tartan 25-9, 25-21 in the opening round of competition at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University. Megan Larson deliverd 18 set assists for Minneota, while Taylor Reiss recorded eight kills and Molly Hennen seven. Faith Laleman was 14-for-14 behind the service line with one ace in addition to leading the defensive effort with nine digs. Hennen and Reiss also chipped in eight digs apiece.
In the second round against Fergus Falls, which upended Andover in the first round, the Vikings won the first set 25-17, but then trailed for much of the second set before eventually capping the match with a 26-24 win.
"I thought we had a great comeback," Steph Hennen said. "I thought we pulled together really well in Set 2 and had a good comeback. We played better defense and were able to get back into it."
Reiss pounded down 12 kills against the Otters, while Molly Hennen anchored the defense with 10 digs. Hannah Prellwitz and Reiss earned two ace blocks apiece, while Faith Laleman, Hennen, Shelby Corbin and Reiss all went 10-for-10 from behind the service line.
"We didn't miss a serve in that match," Steph Hennen said. "But we got caught standing around a lot. I think that we just need somebody to step up and take charge of that. Finally, at the end, they all kind of decided that 'yeah, we can do this.' We work on situations a lot in practice and we try to make it like that and it helped us."
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton fell 25-21, 12-25, 17-15 to Saint Michael-Albertville in the first round before defeating Yellow Medicine East 25-9, 25-21. Kassidy Przymus led the Panther offense with 15 kills, while Sammie Gervais and Jenna Stoneberg each recorded 10 kills apiece. Kelli Soupir also chipped in eight kills.
Cassie Hook had a total of 32 set assists in the two matches. Hook was also 19 of 19 at the serving line with two aces, while Anna Peterson went 18-for-18 with three aces and Soupir went 16-for-17 with three aces. Defensively, Peterson came up with 20 digs, Hook 14 and Soupir nine. Soupir and Gervais also had one ace block apiece.
The Panthers will matchup against West Fargo (N.D.) at 10:45 a.m. today at SMSU.
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Canby and YME dropped down the 25th-32nd place bracket after finishing 0-2 Friday. RTR and Canby will face off at 9:30 a.m. today at SMSU, while YME will meet up with BOLD at 9:30 a.m., also at SMSU.
MARSHALL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Kills: Kenzie Beekman 14, Angela Tauer 7, Emma Doyle 3.
Serving Aces: Maci Louwagie 2, Hannah Bennett 1.
Digs: Beekman 14, Bennett 11, Sydney Griffin 9.
Set Assists: Griffin 14, Rachel Sanow 9.
MARSHALL INDIDIVUAL STATISTICS
Serving (good-att-aces): Tauer 17-18-5, Louwagie 13-13-2.
Kills: Beekman 16, Griffin 6.
Digs: Bennett 9, Griffin 7.
Set Assists: Sanow 15, Griffin 9.
Ace Blocks: Louwagie, Callie Graff, Doyle.