Volleyball: Paynesville puts Litchfield away
Bulldogs move on in 3AA playoffs with a tough, 3-1 win over the Dragons
PAYNESVILLE — Kyleigh Tangen wanted the ball to come her way as much as possible.
Hoping to lead Paynesville to a second straight Section 3AA championship match, the senior outside hitter wanted to close out a scrappy Litchfield squad for good Tuesday night.
“I just wanted to finish it,” Tangen said. “It was a very close (fourth) set. We talk about finishing and giving the other team no hope. Play with that attitude and become that player.
“I think we all did that in that set, but I wanted that ball, for sure.”
The top-seeded Bulldogs finally put down the fourth-seeded Dragons, 25-20, 25-11, 22-25, 28-26.
“We all had to come together and work as a team,” said Paynesville sophomore setter Rayna Spanier. “We had to use our nerves and push through.”
Paynesville will face No. 6-seeded Minnewaska at 7 p.m. Thursday at New London-Spicer High School in New London. The winner plays for the section championship at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the R/A Facility at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
“Our team came together at the right time,” Tangen said. “We had some rocky moments, but overall I think we just pulled for each other and played as a team.”
Nerves weren’t an issue for the Bulldogs over the first two sets Tuesday as they cruised to a 2-0 lead.
“It was that initial energy and the fact that this may be our seniors’ last game in this gym,” Paynesville head coach Nicole Humbert said of her team’s fast start. “Paynesville had people crowded in, Litchfield had people crowded in. Having that environment and energy helped.
“The third game, it wears off a little bit and you get down to the nitty gritty. That’s volleyball.”
Litchfield was able to settle in during the fourth set. Down 9-8, the Dragons scored seven of the next nine points to go ahead 15-11 after an ace serve by Anna Sorgatz. Litchfield clinched the final point of fourth set with a Greta Hansen kill.
“We made some adjustments as far as where we were going to attack from with our middles and our outsides,” said Dragons head coach Darin Swenson. “We got them to believe in themselves a little bit more and swing with some more confidence. We started getting production on the outside, which we need.”
Litchfield was on the verge of forcing a fifth set with a 24-23 lead in the fourth. But a serving error tied it at 24-all, and the two teams tied it two more times at the end of the match.
Tangen, a University of Sioux Falls recruit, put the Bulldogs up 27-26 with a kill. She had seven of her match-high 25 kills in the fourth set. She also tallied 10 digs and two-and-a-half blocks.
Emma Flanders added 14 kills and 10 digs for the Bulldogs.
“They’re nice, really reliable players,” Spanier said of setting up Tangen and Flanders. “They can put the ball down when I need them to.”
Spanier had 44 set assists and three ace serves.
Humbert said of Spanier, “Rayna’s doing a great job as a 10th-grade setter. There’s a lot of time for her to keep growing.”
Paynesville got the decisive point when Litchfield was called for a double hit.
The Dragons conclude the season at 16-13.
“Our record is what it is, but in every match, we competed in,” Swenson said. “I never felt like we got run out the door in a collective match.”
In the 3AA-South, No. 1 Pipestone and No. 3 Windom play for the sub-section championship at 7 p.m. Thursday in Worthington. The Arrows beat No. 4 Redwood Valley in three sets Tuesday. The Eagles swept No. 7 Montevideo.
Paynesville 3, Litchfield 1
Litchfield (16-13) 20 11 25 26
Paynesville (20-5) 25 25 22 28
Stats not available
Serving (aces): Rayna Spanier 3, Emma Stanley 1, Kyleigh Tangen 1, Emma Flanders 1, Lexy Frank 1 … Set assists: Spanier 44, Stanley 1, Tangen 1, Kaydence Roeske 1, Frank 1 … Hitting (kills): Tangen 25, Flanders 14, Roeske 7, Frank 3, Maddie Frieler 2, Spanier 2 … Blocking (aces): Tangen 2-1/2, Frank 1, Roeske 1/2, Frieler 1/2, Spanier 1/2 … Digs (5 or more): Tangen 10, Flanders 10, Stanley 8