If there is such a thing as a close sweep, the Marshall Tigers volleyball team endured it in Windom on Thursday night. The Tigers, affected by a raucous Windom crowd, pushed through for a 3-0 win over the Eagles 25-20, 25-16 and 26-24.
"We weren't real sharp," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said of his team's performance, "but Windom had a lot to do with that. They came out and played with a lot of energy and their crowd got into it. That made it tough for us."
Adding to the degree of difficulty was recent history.
"That's a tough place to play," Westby said. "We haven't had a lot of success down there. In the last four trips down there, we're 2-2. We've certainly experienced our share of difficulty in that gym."
Providing a spark for the Tigers in the Eagles' nest was an improved passing game that had become a focal point following difficult four-set wins over Jackson County Central and Sioux Falls Roosevelt the previous week.
"We did work a lot on passing this week," Westby said. "We always feel that if we can pass the ball we'll be able to hang around.
"We passed pretty well tonight. I thought Hannah Bennett, Kenzie Beekman, and Steph Baker all passed the ball well."
Bennett and Baker also had exceptional nights digging. The duo combined for 38 digs, with Bennett taking the Tigers' share (22). Beekman established her presence hitting as well, totaling 19 kills over three sets.
Rachel Sanow was a team-best 19-for-19 serving for Marshall. She picked up an ace and also had 20 set assists, two ahead of fellow setter Sydney Griffin. Senior Angela Tauer did a little bit of everything for the Tigers on Thursday. Tauer was 16-for-16 serving with three aces to go along with her six kills, 13 digs and two ace blocks. Sophomore Callie Graff paced the Tigers with five ace blocks against Windom.
With the win, Marshall improves to 9-2 on the year (2-0 Southwest Conference). The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in Class AA, take part in the Apple Valley "Eagle Invite" tournament this weekend with a pair of games on Friday. Marshall opens the tournament with Alexandria at 7:30 p.m. before a showdown with Class AAA No. 1 Lakeville North at 8:45 p.m.
"One of the things we talked about after the match was the fact that we know, going in, that we're going to play four tough matches this weekend," Westby said. "We just want to go in and compete hard each of those four games. And whatever happens, happens. We just want to come out of there feeling good about our effort."
Marshall25 25 26
Windom20 16 24
Serving (good-att-ace): Rachel Sanow 19-19-1, Angela Tauer 16-16-3, Hannah Bennett 9-9-0.
Kills: Kenzie Beekman 19, Sydney Griffin 12, Tauer 6.
Digs: Bennett 22, Steph Baker 16, Tauer 13.
Set Assists: Sanow 20, Griffin 18.
Blocks: Callie Graff 5, Emma Doyle 3, Tauer 2.