MARSHALL - With a 3-0 sweep of Worthington on Thursday night, the Marshall Tigers have now gone nine matches, covering seven seasons, since dropping a set to the Trojans.
The 25-10, 25-7, 25-15 win by the Tigers also extended their current Southwest Conference winning streak to 17 games, as well as placed Marshall in control of its own destiny regarding one of the team's goals entering the season.
"One of their goals this year was to win the conference," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. "Certainly it's not the ultimate goal, but I think any time you play well in your league that's important. Typically those are teams that know quite a bit about each other. To come out and perform well against those teams is important."
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall’s Sydney Griffin leaps during a kill attempt in the third set of Marshall’s 3-0 sweep of the Worthington Trojans on Thursday while Morgan Saugstad, left, and Maci Louwagie (3) look on for the Tigers.
The Tigers (13-4 overall) are now 3-0 in the conference after using a balanced offensive attack to dispose of the Trojans.
Specifically, the home team received a significant contribution from sophomore Callie Graff, who helped Marshall end the first set on a 15-2 run.
"We've worked a lot on that in practice on getting more kids involved in what we're doing offensively," Westby said. Callie is a kid who's gaining more confidence. She's a good player. We need to have her be a bigger part of us offensively."
Marshall continued to roll as the second set unfolded. The Tigers opened up the set with an 11-2 lead, thanks to four of Kenzie Beekman's team-high 14 kills. Worthington brought the score to 12-4, but never got closer as the Tigers outscored the Trojans 13-3 to end the second set.
Aiding the Tigers to their dominant second set was the play of setter Rachel Sanow, who recorded her 200th set assist of the year during the match as a part of Marshall's 6-2 offense. She finished with 11 set assists during the match and picked up nine digs, while fellow setter Sydney Griffin had 17 set assists and seven kills.
"Rachel's had a good week of practice," Westby said. "She's a very good player. She's got a lot of talent and we just need her to play hard all the time. When she does that she is extremely effective."
Added Sanow on her team's improved play, "I think we're playing together, a lot better than we have in the past. It helps when the pass is on with who to set, because you have so many different options."
Sanow was also a factor serving, finishing 12-for-12 with an ace. Her perfect line from the night was part of the Tigers serving a perfect 64-for-64 as a team on Thursday. Maci Louwagie led the Tigers on 14-for-14 serving, while Angela Tauer was 12 of 12. Both Louwagie and Tauer had two aces, contributing to the Tiger team total of seven for the match.
"I think everyone has been working harder on defense and that has really helped the team," Tauer said. "We're all just trying to do our little part to help each other out."
For the second match in a row, the Tigers used the latter half of the night to get experience for some younger players. To avoid a baptism by fire, however, the Tiger cubs were supported by Marshall's two seniors, Tauer and Louwagie.
"Both Maci and Angela have kind of taken a page out of the book of our seniors of a year ago," Westby said. "Those two were extremely focused and really weren't too concerned about individual accomplishments. I think these two have done a good job of that. They're pretty focused in terms of what our team is doing as opposed to what they're doing individually."
Tauer said of her role in helping acclimate her younger teammates to varsity volleyball, "I know playing up is really nerve wracking. And your first time getting on the court is really exciting. So, yeah, it's good to help give them some guidance."
While it was a Tauer kill that ended the second set for the Tigers, the final set was put to rest on a kill by sophomore Morgan Saugstad. Marshall opened the third set on an 8-2 run, ultimately extending its lead to 16-6. The Trojans and Tigers would exchange points until Saugstad sent the Trojans back down Highway 59.
The Tigers, Class AA's top-ranked team, travel to New Ulm on Monday for a non-conference matchup before returning to the Southwest Conference on Thursday for road test against the Pipestone Arrows.
Worthington10 7 15
Marshall25 25 25
MARSHALL INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Serving (good-att-aces): Maci Louwagie 14-14-2, Angela Tauer 12-12-2, Rachel Sanow 12-12-1, Hannah Bennett 11-11-1
Kills: Kenzie Beekman 14, Sydney Griffin 7, Tauer 6.
Digs: Bennett 23, Sanow 9, Steph Baker 8.
Set Assists: Griffin 17, Sanow 11, Emma Doyle 5.
Blocks: Griffin 2, Doyle 1, Callie Graff 1, Marah Mulso 1.