MARSHALL - A sluggish start did little more than slow the Marshall Tigers volleyball team down Tuesday night, as Minnesota's top-ranked team (Class AA) swept the Watertown (S.D.) Arrows 25-23, 25-10, 25-10.
"It was a dog fight, that first set," Marshall head coach Dan Westby said. "But they found a way to get it done. I thought after that we put a lot more pressure on them. We were certainly sluggish in that first set."
The Tigers committed four errors in helping the Arrows to an 8-4 lead to open the match. Watertown kept the Tigers in a four-point hole through most of the set as the two teams traded points.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall middle hitter Emma Doyle (11) and her Tiger teammates gather after winning a point during Tuesday’s non-conference match against Watertown (S.D.)?at Marshall High School.
After trailing 19-15, Marshall finally put together the type of run needed to reclaim the lead. The Tigers outscored the Arrows 10-4 to close out the first set.
"You have to give Watertown some credit, they came out and really passed the ball well," Westby said. "Our kids were serving tough, but they passed well. Once they started passing the ball well, you could see they were gaining confidence."
Helping to jump start the stagnant Tigers during the first set were a pair of juniors. Outside hitter Kenzie Beekman knocked down eight of her team-high 23 kills during the first set, while Sydney Griffin had four of her seven kills clustered together to prevent Watertown from stealing the match's opening stanza.
"I thought Kenzie put some balls down and really bounced a couple balls just beyond the 10-foot line, and that really got us going," Westby said. "We had some kids that responded, some kids that swung well. I thought Kenzie, certainly, had a good night offensively again. And so did Sydney. She has some things she needs to work on, but she came through for us there at the end."
The Tigers flipped the tables on Watertown to start the second set, taking advantage of six Arrows errors en route to a 10-2 lead. Watertown cut the lead down to 12-6, but could get no closer as Marshall outscored the Arrows 13-4 over the last half of Set 2, concluded by four consecutive Beekman kills.
Errors and kills dictated the match's final set as well, with almost exactly the same scoring patterns its predecessor. A 10-3 Marshall lead to start, followed by a slight Watertown rally to 11-5, but a final 14-5 run for the Tigers would close out the match and improve the Tigers' record to 19-5 overall.
Marshall managed to get contributions from several Tigers during the match. Callie Graff had five kills and a pair of ace blocks, while Maci Louwagie had a set of ace blocks and was 9 of 9 serving with an ace. Rachel Sanow had three aces on 16-for-17 serving and 13 set assists, which trailed Griffin's 20 for the team lead. Hannah Bennett and Steph Baker combined for 27 digs to keep talented Watertown hitter Ashtin McClemans in check, as well as establish the groundwork for the efficient Tiger attack against the Arrows.
The Tigers (4-0 Southwest Conference) now prepare for their final home game of the regular season, when they host the Redwood Valley Cardinals (9-11 overall, 1-3) on Thursday.
"We've got three more matches and then the postseason starts," Westby said. "We've got a lot of work to do. We just need to come to practice and try and improve every day. One of the things we've talked about is that we think we need to play like we've got something to prove. And we do."
Watertown23 10 10
Marshall25 25 25
Serving (good-att-aces): Rachel Sanow 16-17-3, Maci Louwagie 9-9-1.
Kills: Kenzie Beekman 23, Sydney Griffin 7, Callie Graff 5.
Digs: Hannah Bennett 14, Steph Baker 13, Beekman 10.
Set Assists: Griffin 20, Sanow 13.
Blocks: Louwagie 3, Graff 2, Griffin 2.