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Cards crumble late, lose CLC lead

WILLMAR -- A great second set didn't didn't produce any carry-over momentum for the Willmar volleyball team as Rocori took sole possession of first place in the Central Lakes Conference with a 3-1 win Tuesday. The Spartans, the fourth-ranked team...

CLAY CUNNINGHAM | TRIBUNE
CLAY CUNNINGHAM | TRIBUNE

WILLMAR - A great second set didn't didn't produce any carry-over momentum for the Willmar volleyball team as Rocori took sole possession of first place in the Central Lakes Conference with a 3-1 win Tuesday.

The Spartans, the fourth-ranked team in Class AA, won 25-21, 20-25, 25-20, 25-17. Both teams were 4-0 in the CLC coming into the match,.

After dropping the opener, the Cardinals kept pace in a back-and-forth second set and used a 5-0 closing rally to even the match at one.

Two Carly Wedel kills gave Willmar the lead and a Heidi Sellmann ace capped the rally.

The momentum would be short-lived, though, as the only lead the Cardinals had the rest of the way came on the opening point of the fourth set.

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Cardinals head coach Traci Grussing said mental mistakes and poor service returns in the final two sets killed any confidence her players may have developed early.

"In the second set we started out very well and we didn't really get behind," Grussing said. It was even and we were doing well.

"But in the third and fourth we got behind and right away we didn't think we could (win)," she said. "We played scared."

Esther Grussing continued her strong season, finishing with 41 assists. Cami Sleta had a team-best 14 kills, with Wedel adding 10.

Going into Tuesday, Maple Lake, Class AA's top-ranked team, was the only other team to win a set against the Spartans.

Though not completely dismissive of this accomplishment, Grussing didn't feel like celebrating moral victories.

"We really felt like we could take this one and I really think we could have if we would have just taken care of the ball," she said.

The Cardinals travel to Brainerd for a 7 p.m. match Thursday.

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Rocori 3, Willmar 1

Rocori (5-0, 10-1)............................ 25 20 25 25

Willmar (4-1, 6-4).............................. 21 25 20 17

Rocori

Stats not provided

Willmar

Serving (aces): Addie Erickson 2, Hannah Gallagher 2, Abby Volk 1, Emma Rosen 1, Heidi Sellmann 1, Staci Banks 1... Set assists: Esther Grussing 41... Hitting (kills): Cami Sleta 14, Carly Wedel 10, Rosen 6, Volk 5, Heidi Sellmann 5, Gallagher 3, Caitlin Ogdahl 2,Grussing 2, Hannah Kobiena 1, ... Blocking (aces): Volk 1, Sletta 1, Wedel 1, Rosen 1, Kobiena 1, Sellmann 1... Digs (5 or more): Erickson 15, Sletta 12, Rosen 10, Banks 8, Wedel 5

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Willmar's Hannah Gallagher, left, and Rocori's Abby Anderson battle for a loose ball at the net. Gallagher had three kills and two assists in a losing effort for the Cardinals. Clay Cunningham / Tribune
Willmar's Hannah Gallagher, left, and Rocori's Abby Anderson battle for a loose ball at the net. Gallagher had three kills and two assists in a losing effort for the Cardinals. Clay Cunningham / Tribune

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALL
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