High School Roundup: Willmar Cardinals impress against Sartell
Willmar handles the defending Central Lakes Conference champion in three sets
WILLMAR — Facing the defending Central Lakes Conference champion, Willmar jumped on an opportunity to make a strong, early season impression.
Controlling the action throughout the night, the Cardinals charged past Sartell 3-0 by the set scores of 25-16, 25-17, 25-17 on Thursday from Willmar High School.
The Sabres feature a roster not much different from the one that won 26 of their 28 matches last season, thus making Willmar’s performance all the more impressive.
“Our girls, we just are solid at every spot,” Cardinals head coach Traci Grussing said. “The first match that we had (Thursday), we didn’t pass particularly well and tonight we did. It makes all the difference in the world for us to be able to get a good offense going and play well.”
Lydia Larson led Willmar with 37 set assists. Her main targets were sophomore outside hitter Sydney Schnichels and senior outside hitter Bailey Olson, who put up 15 and 13 kills, respectively.
Schnichels and Callie Slagter each produced three ace serves. Olson added 14 digs. Abby Stark had a team-high 16 digs.
In the first set, Willmar went on a 5-0 run due in large part to Slagter’s serving. Placing the ball short and on the corners, the senior defensive specialist collected three consecutive aces to give the home team a 12-8 advantage.
Later, Larson, almost by accident, delivered the highlight of the set. The junior setter delivered a sprawling, one-handed kill that found a hole in the Sabres’ defense. It resulted in a Sartell timeout and gave Willmar a 16-9 cushion. Olson closed out the set with a kill.
The second set was far more competitive. Alternating points on eight rallies in the middle of the set, the teams were not separated by more than three points until the Cardinals pulled away late. Kills from Olson and junior outside hitter Marissa Rosen put the hosts up 18-14, prompting the Sabres to call another timeout.
Capped by a Schnichels kill, Willmar took the second set by scoring seven of the last nine points.
Finishing off the visitors in the third set, the Cardinals improved their record to 2-0.
In its first road match of the season, Willmar next plays at 7 p.m. Tuesday at St. Cloud Tech.
Sartell (1-1) 16 17 17
Willmar (2-0) 25 25 25
Stats not available
Serving (aces): Lydia Larson 1, Abby Stark 2, Callie Slagter 3, Bailey Olson 2, Sydney Schnichels 3 … Set assists: Larson 37, Stark 2, Madelyn Gregory 1 … Hitting (kills): Larson 1, Stark 1, Olson 13, Schnichels 15, Marissa Rosen 2, Gregory 7, Mackenzie Knofczynski 2, Emily Staska 1 … Blocking (aces): Schnichels 2, Rosen 2, Gregory 2, Knofczynski 1 … Digs (5 or more): Larson 5, Stark 16, Slagter 5, Olson 14, Schnichels 8
Kendra Bagley had 17 kills and Nyla Johnson recorded 31 set assists in New London-Spicer’s Wright County Conference victory at Rockford.
NLS beat the Rockets 25-15, 25-17, 25-20.
Bagley had a .361 hitting percentage for the Wildcats, who also got nine kills from Aleah Zieske and eight from Ashlyn Olson.
Johnson also had two ace serves and 14 digs.
Rockford and NLS meet again at 7 p.m. Wednesday at New London.
NLS (2-0) 25 25 25
Rockford (1-1) 15 17 20
Serving (aces): Aleah Zieske 1, Mackenzie Rich 2, Nyla Johnson 2, Mya Krause 1 … Set assists: Johnson 31 … Hitting (kills): Kendra Bagley 17, Zieske 9, Ashlyn Olson 8, Ava Kraemer 3, Peterson 2 … Blocking (aces): Kraemer 3, Bagley 2 … Digs (5 or more): Krause 18, Johnson 14, Rich 8, Zieske 5
Stats not available
Minneota 3, RCW 0
Visiting Minneota improved to 2-0 with the Camden Conference victory at Renville.
The Vikings won 25-8, 25-9, 25-6.
For Renville County West, Hanny Pharr had six kills and Ellie Wulf had 10 digs and a service ace.
The Jaguars play host to Russell-Tyler-Ruthton at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday in Renville.
Minneota (2-0) 25 25 25
RCW (0-2) 8 9 6
Stats not available
Renville County West
Serving (aces): Ellie Wulf 1 … Set assists: Addyson Tanner 8, Holly Bratsch 4 … Hitting (kills): Hannah Pharr 6, Alice Hanson 3, Reilly Elfering 2, Tanner 1 … Blocking (aces): Elfering 1, Pharr 1 … Digs (5 or more): Wulf 10, Tanner 7, Bratsch 6
Hillcrest Lutheran 0
Hancock won the home match over Hillcrest Lutheran of Fergus Falls.
The Owls won 25-8, 25-15, 25-22.
Hancock is scheduled to play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Ortonville.