WINDOM - Facing a well-known opponent multiple times in a season can be difficult, but the Marshall volleyball team didn't let it affect them.
The Tigers claimed the Class 2A Section 3 South Division championship Thursday night by defeating Jackson County Central in four sets and advance to the Section 3 Tournament championship game Saturday
"We braced ourselves for the fact that JCC would come out and play with a lot of energy," said Marshall head coach Dan Westby. "We just wanted to make sure we weathered the storm and got back to what we felt we needed to do."
Photo by Dan Condon. Jackson County Pilot
Marshall’s Stephaniex Baker (6), Kenzie Beekman (14) and Marah Mulso (15) celebrate a point during their Class 2A Section 3 South Division championship match against Jackson County Central on Thursday at Windom Area High School.
Marshall defeated the Huskies 25-15, 25-16, 22-25, 25-12.
In the first two sets, Westby said that the Tigers were able to force the Huskies out of their game plan, which left open opportunities for Marshall.
"We served well in the first two sets," Westby said. "We forced them into a number of free ball situations and we were able to put several of those balls away."
But in the third set, things didn't go the Tigers' way.
"I think it was a combination of JCC not going away, and our kids taking some plays off," said Westby. "We didn't pass as well and we didn't defend as well."
Finding themselves playing a fourth set for the first time this season, Marshall responded with a resounding win.
"We talked between the third and fourth sets that we needed to get back to doing what made us successful," Westby said. "We had a renewed focus in the fourth set."
The Tigers served strong with both Callie Graff and Rachel Sanow going 22-for-22. Graff added two ace serves while Sanow had one. Lexi Saugstad was also strong, going 12-of-13 with two aces.
Kenzie Beekman had 29 kills, 13 digs and four solo blocks while Sydney Griffin had 20 set assists, 11 kills, nine digs and a pair of blocks while Hannah Bennett had 22 digs and Sanow added 25 set assists.
Marshall (28-3), the first seed in the South Division, will face Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta (19-5), the third seed from the North Division of the section. MA/C-A (also the Tigers) defeated the second seed Litchfield and first seed New London-Spicer to advance to the Section 3 Tournament championship.
"They are a very balanced team. They don't rely on one player. They use a combination of kids," said Westby. "We can't afford to come into this thing and think that we got the difficult match out of the way.
"Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta is going to want to win just as badly as we do, so we're going to plan for a hard-fought match again."
The Class 2A Section 3 Tournament championship match will be played at 6 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Jackson County Central15 16 25 12
Marshall25 25 22 25
SERVING (MADE-ATTEMPTED-ACES) - Marshall (Callie Graff 22-22-2, Lexi Saugstad 12-13-2, Rachel Sanow 22-22-1).
KILLS - Marshall (Kenzie Beekman 29, Sydney Griffin 11, Saugstad 5, Graff 5).
DIGS - Marshall (Hannah Bennett 22, Beekman 13, Griffin 9).
SET ASSISTS - Marshall (Sanow 25, Griffin 20).
BLOCKS (SOLO) - Marshall (Beekman 4, Marah Mulso 3, Griffin 2).
RECORD - Jackson County Central (22-8 overall); Marshall (28-3 overall).
NEXT MATCH - Marshall will play Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta on Saturday at the R/A Facility at SMSU at 6 p.m. for the Section 3 Tournament championship.