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Prep Volleyball: Willmar draws closer to state

Willmar's Esther Grussing (left) and Grace Marti (right) go up for a block against St. Cloud Apollo in a Section 8AAA quarterfinal on Friday. Curt Hogg / Tribune1 / 2
Willmar's Grace Marti goes up to spike the ball on Friday in a Section 8AAA quarterfinal against St. Cloud Apollo. Curt Hogg / Tribune2 / 2

WILLMAR — The Willmar student section may have been donning Halloween costumes for Friday night's Section 8AAA volleyball quarterfinal against St. Cloud Apollo, but the top-seeded Cardinals didn't mask their dominance.

After a bit of a slow start, Willmar found its stride midway through the first set en route to a 25-15, 25-8, 25-10 to draw within two games of the state tournament.

Awaiting the Cardinals will be one of the four teams to hand them a defeat this season: No. 5-seed Alexandria, in the section semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Willmar.

The teams split a pair of Central Lakes Conference matches during the regular season. Alexandria snapped a 10-game Willmar winning streak with a 3-2 victory in Willmar on Oct. 5. Willmar has won nine straight since that match.

"We know what to expect," Willmar head coach Traci Grussing said. "There's a chance to improve on what happened last time. We have something to prove and there's a little more meaning there. I'm hoping what happened last time will help."

Esther Grussing tallied 33 assists while spreading the wealth throughout the Willmar attack.

Of the nine Cardinals to record a kill, Abby Volk led the way with 11 kills and Grace Marti was just behind with eight.

Abby Stark had three aces and a team-high 19 digs.

The No. 8 Eagles, who dropped all six sets against Willmar in the regular season, came out swinging. Both sides exchanged leads throughout the preliminary stages of the first set.

The Cardinals were just warming up.

Willmar outscored Apollo 50-18 over the last two sets to pull away for the easy straight-sets victory.

Willmar 3, SC Apollo 0

St. Cloud Apollo (12-18) 15 8 10

Willmar (24-4) 25 25 25

St. Cloud Apollo

Stats not provided

Willmar

Serving (aces): Abby Stark 3, Callie Slagter 2, Cambrie Parker 2, Caitlin Ogdahl 1 ... Set assists: Esther Grussing 33, Stark 1, Grace Marti 1 ... Hitting (kills): Grussing 3, Stark 1, Ogdahl 3, Carly Wedel 5, Sydney Olson 2, Emma Rosen 3, Hannah Kobienia 2, Abby Volk 11, Marti 8 ... Blocking (aces): Grussing 2, Ogdahl 1, Wedel 2, Rosen 1, Kobienia 1, Volk 2, Marti 4 ... Digs (5 or more): Grussing 6, Stark 19, Ogdahl 11

Section 3A

RTR 3, MACCRAY 1

MACCRAY's Sydney Schwitters collected 51 set assists but Russell-Tyler-Ruthton kept its postseason run going with a 3-1 upset victory against the Wolverines.

The Wolverines took the first set 25-18 but could never finish the Knights off, losing the next three sets by a combined nine points.

Piper Asche finished the match with 17 kills, just ahead of teammates Ellie Thein and Danni Burns who had 13 and 10 kills respectively.

RTR (16-11) 18 25 25 25

MACCRAY (24-7) 25 23 23 20

Russell-Tyler-Ruthton

Stats not provided

MACCRAY

Serving (aces): Sydney Schwitters 1, Ellie Thein 1, Danni Burns 2, Piper Asche 1 ... Set assists: Schwitters 51 ... Hitting (kills): Schwitters 4, Thein 13, Burns 10, Carly Orwick 8, Ruiter 7, Piper Asche 17 ... Blocking (aces): Asche 1, Schwitters 1 ... Digs (5 or more): Schwitters 11, THein 9, Burns 12, kate Hultgren 10, Orwick 12, Ruiter 8

Wabasso 3, YME 0

The 24-5 Rabbits ended Yellow Medicine East's season in the Section 3A playoffs on Friday.

No other information about the match was provided.

YME (12-13) 18 17 13

Wabasso (24-5) 25 25 25

Yellow Medicine East

Stats not provided

Wabasso

Stats not provided

Section 5A

KMS 3, Kimball 1

KMS dropped the first set but followed that up with three straight set victories to take the victory over Kimball Friday night.

Lauren Krieger slammed home 11 kills, thanks in large part to Mallory Rudningen's 33 set assists.

Halie Nichols was dominant from the start as well with eight ace serves.

KMS (12-16) 22 25 25 25

Kimball (10-18) 25 17 14 16

KMS

Serving (aces): Haylee Johnson 1, Mallory Rudningen 2, Halie Nichols 8, Maret Gjerde 2 ... Set assists: Katie Krieger 2, Rudningen 33, Nichols 1 ... Hitting (kills): Krieger 2, Lydia Wagner 8, Lexy Swanson 2, Johnson 9, Alex Walsh 5, Rudningen 5, Lauren Krieger 11 ... Blocking (aces): Swanson 1, Johnson 1, Rudningen 1 ... Digs (5 or more): K Krieger 28, Wagner 6, Johnson 5, Rudningen 10, Nichols 15, Morgan Lesteberg 12, Gjerde 8

Kimball

Stats not provided

BBE 3, ACGC 0

BBE won its first game of the Section 5A playoffs behind a strong performance from Ally Gruber and Katherine Mastey.

Gruber led with 12 kills and three solo blocks as the Jaguars won in straight sets and held ACGC to 44 total points. Mastey added 10 kills.

ACGC (6-16) 12 12 20

BBE (16-13) 25 25 25

ACGC

Serving (aces): Lindsey Minnick 1, Rachel Wilner 1, Addison Bernstein 2 ... Set assists: Rachel Wilner 10 ... Hitting (kills): Bernstein 5, Brenna Anderson 5, Madison Denton 8, Minnick 4 ... Blocking (aces): Anderson 1, Rachel Wilner 1... Digs (5 or more): Jeana Denton 5, Alex Hovey 12, Bernstein 14, Rylie Wilner 14, Rachel Wilner 10

BBE

Serving (aces): Jaden Gossen 3, Jenna Fischer 2, Karse Kampsen 2 ... Set assists: Illies 2, Karsee Kampsen 27 ... Hitting (kills): Ally Gruber 12, Brittany Berge 1, Emily Knight 1, Grace Illies 1, Jenna Fischer 2, Katherine Mastey 10, Kendra Schmitz 1, Morgan Gronli 3, Nicole Wesber 1 ... Blocking (aces): Gruber 3, Illies 1, Fischer 1, Gronli 2 ... Digs (5 or more): Gruber 7, Emily Wosmek 5, Fischer 8, Kampsen 6, Gronli 13

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