MARSHALL - Coming off of a Class AA state championship and a fifth-place finish at the Molten Southwest Minnesota Challenge volleyball tournament in 2011, the Marshall Tigers had their goals set higher for the 2012 version of the tournament.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, errors, both mental and physical, prevented Marshall from finishing higher in the tournament. The Tigers went 1-2 in the Championship Bracket on Saturday and finished the tournament in sixth place. Marshall fell to Wayzata and Waconia, while picking up its lone win of the day against Jamestown (N.D.).
"It was disappointing, definitely not the way we wanted to finish," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. "In both the Wayzata match and the Waconia match, we just spent too much time playing from behind. We'd make a run to try to get back in the game and then we'd either have a physical error or a mental error. And that just took away any momentum that we had put together."
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall juniors Steph Baker, right, and Hannah Bennett look on after Baker digs the ball during the Tigers’ match against Wayzata Saturday at Marshall High School while competing in the Championship Bracket of the Southwest Minnesota Challenge. Wayzata won the match 22-25, 25-18, 15-9 and went on to take second place in the tournament.
Marshall (7-2 overall) experienced its first taste of defeat in 2012 during its opening match Saturday morning against the Wayzata Trojans.
The Tigers won the first set against the Trojans, the 10th ranked team in Class AAA, 25-22. But Wayzata rallied to win the second two sets 25-18 and 15-9 as their length at the net gave the Tigers' attackers fits throughout the match.
"I think their size gave us some trouble," Westby said. "They're a good team. Along with their size, I think they've got some kids that do a pretty good job. But their size really got to us."
Kenzie Beekman led all Tigers in the match with nine kills. Sydney Griffin chipped in with six kills of her own and had 10 set assists. Rachel Sanow also had 10 set assists in Marshall's 6-2 offense.
During their second match, the Tigers and Coach Westby ran into a pair of familiar faces from the Jamestown (N.D.) Blue Jays.
Coaching the Blue Jays was Sara Hegerle, whose husband Jon was an assistant under Westby from 2003-2008 before taking the head coaching position with the Jamestown College volleyball program. Their daughter, Josie, was the starting setter for Jamestown on Saturday.
"Sara Hegerle is doing a great job with that team and I thought Josie Hegerle did a good job for them, setting-wise," Westby said. "That was a tough match. I'm sure it was tough for our kids to play against Josie, and I'm sure it was tough for her as well."
Regardless of the difficulty of playing against a former mentor and a friend, the Tigers showed resilience in bouncing back from their first loss of the season with a 2-0 win.
During the first set both teams traded runs in the early going, but with the tied at 10 Callie Graff entered the game for the Tigers and Marshall closed the set on a 15-4 run. Graff had three ace blocks for the Tigers during the match and provided the energy boost the team was lacking to that point.
In the second set the Tigers seemed reluctant to put the Blue Jays away. Marshall took leads of 12-7 and 20-15, but each time the Tigers were within reach of putting the matter to rest, Jamestown crept back in. The Blue Jays cut the score as close as 22-21 in the latter stages of the set, but the Tigers closed on a 3-0 run for the win.
"We came out and had a big lead early, then we kind of relaxed a little bit and Jamestown took advantage and made that second set pretty close," Westby said.
Sanow led the Tigers with 12 set assists and Griffin added 10 of her own. Beekman again led the Tigers in kills, with 10, but also added an ace block and eight digs. Hannah Bennett paced the Tigers with 12 digs.
Jamestown entered Saturday 11-0 on the season, but would leave Lyon County on a three game losing streak after falling to Chaska, Marshall, and Minneota respectively.
Marshall's final match on Saturday came against the Waconia Wildcats, the seventh ranked team in Class AAA. Waconia found itself in the 5th place match after bitterly close three set loss to top-ranked and eventual tournament champion Lakeville North and a 2-0 win over Minneota.
The Tigers led the first set early, but similar to Wayzata, Waconia's height posed problems up front for Marshall as they fell 25-23.
Marshall followed up with a 25-18 win in set two. The Tigers pounced out to a 6-3 lead, but a Waconia run made the score 7-6 forcing Westby to take a time out. His message was received as the Tigers followed with a run of their own to lead 16-13. Down the stretch of the second set, the Tigers found the open spaces on the floor and and closed with four consecutive kills, including Angela Tauer's smash down the line to end the set. Tauer would finish the match with nine kills, four behind Beekman who again paced the Tigers in that department. Beekman also had two serving aces in the match.
Whatever momentum Marshall carried into the third set evaporated quickly as Waconia opened up with a 4-0 run. The closest the Tigers would get in the set was following a Griffin ace block to cut the Waconia lead to 6-4. Waconia finished the set on a 9-3 run to earn fifth place.
Griffin had two ace blocks in the match to accompany her 15 set assists. Emma Doyle also had two ace blocks against Waconia, while Bennett recorded 18 digs for the Tigers.
Elsewhere at the Southwest Minnesota Challenge, Lakeville North repeated as champions defeating Wayzata 2-1 to earn the top spot. Minneota defeated Jamestown 2-1 to claim seventh place, and Canby went 3-0 on Saturday to take 25th out of 32 teams.
"It was a great tournament," Westby said. "We're always pleased to get the quality teams that we've been able to get. That's a great thing. It's great for the city of Marshall, it's a great thing for the school and it's a great thing for volleyball in our state. We're really pleased with the tournament overall. It was a great experience for everybody that took part in it."
The Tigers will rely on their experience as they continue to face quality opponents this week. Marshall hosts Sioux Falls Roosevelt on Tuesday before opening up the Southwest Conference schedule with a home match against Jackson County Central on Thursday.
"Those are two very good opponents," Westby said. "We just need to get back to fighting for points. We just need to limit those physical and mental mistakes that we had in our two losses this weekend."
Wayzata22 25 15
Marshall25 18 9
MARSHALL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Serving (good-att-aces): Hannah Bennett 7-7-0, Kenzie Beekman 7-7-0.
Kills: Beekman 9, Sydney Griffin 6.
Digs: Bennett 10, Rachel Sanow 7.
Set Assists: Griffin 10, Sanow 10.
Blocks: Callie Graff 2.
MARSHALL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Serving (good-att-aces): Maci Louwagie 8-8-1, Beekman 8-8-1.
Kills: Beekman 10, Griffin 6, Emma Doyle 5.
Digs: Bennett 12, Beekman 8.
Set Assists: Sanow 12, Griffin 10.
Blocks: Graff 3, Beekman 1, Doyle 1.
Waconia25 23 15
Marshall18 25 7
MARSHALL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Serving (good-att-aces): Beekman 9-10-2, Griffin 10-10-1, Louwagie 9-9-1.
Kills: Beekman 13, Angela Tauer 9, Griffin 5.
Digs: Bennett 18, Steph Baker 5, Louwagie 5.
Set Assists: Griffin 15, Sanow 11.
Blocks: Griffin 2, Doyle 2, Beekman 1.