Volleyball: Wessel honored as Osakis wraps up busy night with sweep of Swanville
The Osakis volleyball team had a big night before it even started its Prairie Conference matchup against Swanville on Tuesday.
The Silverstreaks hosted their "Dig Pink" event to show their support to cancer victims and their friends and family who are affected by the disease. Then after the National Anthem, head coach Kirsten Wessel was honored in a ceremony to recognize her for winning her 175th match in the middle of her 11th season with the Osakis program. It was a surprise to Wessel, who had friends and family from all over the state show up for the occasion.
"I'm still surprised," Wessel said after the match. "I can't believe they got my parents to come here. My mom was already coming from Rochester, but my dad and stepmom coming up from Zumbrota, the kids coming from Fargo, the others from Sauk Centre. I was like, 'What in the world?' I was totally floored. I got a few tears in my eyes because I thought it was pretty cool."
Wessel and the Silverstreaks accomplished the 175th win with a sweep of Browerville-Eagle Valley on Sept. 29. By night's end, she had her 176th win after Osakis controlled things from start to finish in a sweep of the Bulldogs that moved the Silverstreaks to 7-1 in Prairie Conference play.
"What really impressed me the most is we minimized mistakes," Wessel said. "I don't want to take anything away from Swanville, because I know they're actually a better team than they showed tonight. But sometimes playing against a team that's not playing well, you kind of play down to their level. I don't think we did that at all. Even amidst subbing different players in, they still stayed on top of their game and stayed aggressive and didn't make a lot of mistakes."
The Silverstreaks (10-8) never let Swanville (6-9, 3-5) in the match. They dominated the first two sets 25-12 and 25-15. The Bulldogs stuck around through the early portions of the third set but couldn't stop Osakis in a 25-18 clincher. The win helped the Silverstreaks maintain an advantage in the Prairie North standings, with second-place Royalton (9-9, 6-2 Prairie) close behind.
"That's definitely one of our goals is to get the Prairie Conference championship, but also just showing the teams who we are this year," senior outside hitter Jordyn Rajdl said. "I know teams have been surprised with how we've been able to come back from losing all the seniors from last year. (We want to) continue to prove people wrong and show people who we really are this year."
Rajdl did a little bit of everything on Tuesday with four kills, five serving aces, two blocks and eight digs. Osakis likes to spread the ball around with their two setters in senior Hannah Lien and sophomore Jordyn Stroup. Senior Jessica Bliese had seven kills, but the Silverstreaks went to senior middle hitter Kayla Sorenson when they needed to as she finished with a team-high 15 kills.
"If someone is having a really good night, it's hard not to get the ball to them because it's good to give them the ball if they're going to put it down," Lien said after a team-high 22 assists. "But I do like spreading it around to keep the defense moving. It keeps the other team off guard, especially when we do have those subs coming in. It's easy to give the ball to someone who just came in because they're probably not expecting them to get the ball."
Wessel went deep into her bench with Osakis in control. Seven different players had at least one kill, while 12 got at least one dig.
The Silverstreaks are working to be at their best with the final regular-season tournament two weeks away on Oct. 20. They stumbled a bit in late September with a 3-1 loss to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on Sept. 22, followed by their first conference loss to Royalton in a 3-2 match on Sept. 27. Osakis has responded with back-to-back sweeps in league play since then.
"I think we've recovered well from those two losses," Rajdl said. "We used them as learning opportunities and saw what we need to do better. We've really used them to realize how we need to play in the playoffs. I know we can play maybe a little better than what we've been showing, but we've been doing really well."
Wessel has liked the focus and intensity that her team has played with since those two losses. That's the kind of energy they will have to have in order to compete in the Section 6AA Tournament.
"We've got some tough teams we play again this year, but we're going to go into it with an open mind and be intense," Rajdl said. "Just play as hard as we can and give it our all."
The Silverstreaks, 2-2 against section opponents so far, are going up against another talented field led by Pierz (18-5) and Sauk Centre (16-2). An easy win on Tuesday left the Silverstreaks feeling good about where they're at in the conference. They'll get a good understanding of where they stand in section play over the final weeks of the regular season.
"We have a really good week coming up next week," Wessel said. "I think that's going to be a good test. We play Holdingford and Pierz and they're both QRF seeded above us, so it will be nice to see what we're going to do against them. I do think we're building right now at a really good time."
OSAKIS 3, SWANVILLE 0
OSAKIS - Bree Timmerman - 1 kill, 1 dig; Cindy VanAcker - 1 dig; Corinne Collins - 1 block, 2 digs; Ellie Pahl - 1 dig; Emma Johnson - 3 digs; Lien - 2 aces, 4 kills, 1 block, 22 aces, 6 digs; Harlie Falzone - 1 ace, 3 digs; Bliese - 7 kills, 1 assist, 4 digs; Rajdl - 5 aces, 4 kills, 2 blocks, 8 digs; Jordyn Stroup - 3 kills, 1 block, 13 assists, 5 digs; Sorenson - 3 aces, 15 kills, 3 blocks, 1 assist, 2 digs; Morgan Staloch - 4 kills, 2 digs