MARSHALL - In the final home match of the season, the Marshall volleyball team showed why it held the top ranking in Class 2A.
The Tigers (27-3) swept Worthington in three sets on Tuesday to advance to the Class 2A Section 3 South Division championship.
Marshall outscored the Trojans 25-14, 25-4 and 25-11 for the victory.
Photo by Alex Oey
Marshall’s Callie Graff attacks the ball against Worthington during a Class 2A Section 3 South Division Tournament semifinal match Tuesday at Marshall High School.
Photo by Alex Oey
Marshall’s Hannah Bennett digs the ball against Worthington during a Class 2A Section 3 South Division Tournament semifinal match Tuesday at Marshall High School.
"Worthington came in and played hard," said Marshall head coach Dan Westby. "They tried some different things. They competed hard, especially that first set. You have to tip your hat to Worthington; they were ready to play."
In the first set, Worthington started out strong, keeping the Tigers from building a lead, but with the score 9-9, Lexi Saugstad stepped back and served seven straight points to give Marshall a 16-10 lead.
The Trojans were forced to burn both timeouts in the stretch, finally regaining the serve after the second time out, but the damage was done.
"We did serve well again," Westby said. "It's something we practice a lot and stress a lot. It's a big part of what we do. I think it was a big part of the win tonight."
The Tigers didn't look back and, with a 20-14 lead, Hannah Bennet served out the last five points, ending with an ace serve that dropped on the back line, to give Marshall a 25-14 win.
"I thought our kids responded well and really found another gear after a slow start in the first set," said Westby.
In the second set, Saugstad got the Tigers out to a 4-1 lead, and after trading several points, Rachel Sanow stepped back and unleashed a torrent of serves.
Sanow served 14 straight Marshall points, including four kills from Kenzie Beekman, to give the Tigers a 21-4 lead.
"Our block took away a lot of their shots," said Beekman. "It made it a lot easier to dig them up."
Griffin said consecutive point-streaks are uplifting.
"Streaks like that give us energy and focus in the game," said Griffin. "It's a lot easier on us in the long run."
Three serves from Beekman that included a kill and block from Sydney Griffin and Marshall won the second set 25-4.
"I thought we did a good job establishing our middles," Westby said.
In the third set, Marshall jumped out to a 4-1 lead with two aces from Callie Graff. Bennett made it 12-4 with a four-point run that included one of her three ace serves, and Beekman made it 19-10 with a two-serve streak that took advantage of a pair of Worthington errors.
Leading 22-11, Marshall's Jackie Petrich put down a kill that would be tallied as Griffin's 2,000th career set assist.
"I didn't figure I would get it in this match, but I knew it was coming up soon," said Griffin. "It's pretty awesome. My teammates are everything. They did it all. If we didn't have the passes or the kills, I would not have reached this level."
The crowd was prepared for the moment and held up signs commemorating the moment.
"We really didn't talk about it. It's just one of those things that when it happens, it's great," Westby said. "The difficult part about it happening in a tournament match is you can't stop the match and recognize it.
"It was a nice milestone for Sydney. She's put in a lot of time and is a skilled player, but I think she will be the first to say we have much higher things in mind."
With a 23-11 lead in the third set of the match, Marshall quickly finished things off with another Petrich kill and an ace serve from Abby Louwagie, giving the Tigers a 25-11 win and the three-set sweep to advance.
The Tigers will face a familiar foe for the subsection championship when they meet Jackson County Central in Windom on Thursday.
"They are a good team. They are a lot like us. They do a lot of the same things," said Westby. "It will be a hard-fought match, there's no doubt about it."
Worthington14 4 11
Marshall25 25 25
SERVING (MADE-ATTEMPTED-ACES) - Marshall (Rachel Sanow 20-20-3, Hannah Bennett 14-14-3, Lexi Saugstad 14-14-1).
KILLS - Marshall (Kenzie Beekman 17, Sydney Griffin 11, Callie Graff 7, Saugstad 5).
DIGS - Marshall (Bennett 11, Beekman 11, Saugstad 11, Graff 11).
SET ASSISTS - Marshall (Griffin 21, Sanow 17).
BLOCKS (SOLO-ASSISTED) - Marshall (Graff 3, Griffin 2, Jackie Petrich 1, Marah Mulso 1, Beekman 1).
RECORD - Worthington (12-13-3 overall); Marshall (27-3 overall).
NEXT MATCH - Marshall (plays JCC in Windom on Thursday for the Class AA Section 3 South subsection championship on Thursday at 7 p.m.).