Volleyball: Minnewaska surprises NLS in a packed gym
No. 6 Lakers beat No. 2 Wildcats 3-1 to advance in Section 3AA-North
NEW LONDON — It was a battle all night long, both on and off the court. With two student sections sending chants back-and-forth, the No. 6-seeded Minnewaska Lakers and the No. 2-seeded New London-Spicer Wildcats exchanged jabs until the Lakers came out with the last of them in set five on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Minnewaska won 25-23, 25-22, 8-25, 23-25 and 15-12.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Minnewaska head coach Michele Johnson said. “It was so much fun to watch this team push through a difficult match. This match was a great testament to our team’s mental toughness.”
Johnson praised the all-around performance she saw from her Lakers, which was led by junior outside hitter Dreya Barsness.
Barsness led the team with 24 kills. She added 10 digs, two set assists and a pair of ace serves.
The Lakers tallied 55 kills with the help of junior setter Haley Shea, who recorded 43 set assists.
“Dreya is a hard hitter. She can do a lot of great things on the outside. Haley does a really nice job dishing the ball out as a setter,” Johnson said. “However, it really was a team effort.”
Minnewaska recorded 80 digs, as five players reached double digits.
Outside of Barsness, sophomore outside/right-side hitter Dacia Fleury led with 20 and Shea (14), junior middle/outside hitter Avery Fier (12) and junior defensive specialist Brooklyn Meyer (10) followed.
“(NLS) is a slower starting team. We knew if we could get out, execute and take care of the ball, we could get them on their heels a little bit. They are a great team and have a lot of weapons.”
NLS came storming back to tie the match at 2-2 before falling short in the fifth set, including its dominating victory in set three to swing the momentum of the match.
“That’s what I would have expected from the girls right away. There was a little more passion in their play,” Wildcats head coach Tina Peterson said of the third set. “We just came out a little bit too flat in the beginning. The girls got together before the match and had a team dinner at my house. I didn’t like the fact that they didn’t have school. Being away from the daily routine, that always makes me nervous.”
Wildcats senior middle blocker Ellary Peterson led NLS with 15 kills. She added eight digs and a match-high four ace blocks in the final match of her three-year varsity high school career.
Alongside Peterson, junior setter/right-side hitter Kendra Gerhardson tallied a triple-double with 17 digs, 15 set assists and 11 kills. She also had a team-best three ace serves and added a pair of ace blocks.
“They both ended on a great night,” Peterson said. “Ellary and Kendra are a great blocking duo."
As for the Wildcats, their season comes to a close quicker than expected.
“It’s always tough for it to end when you don’t want it to,” Peterson said. “I thought we had a pretty good chance to win tonight. I am disappointed for the girls, knowing that they wanted to have another shot at Paynesville. … Hopefully, they can all walk away with something positive.”
Minnewaska’s led it to face Paynesville, North-3AA’s No. 1 seed, at 7 p.m. Thursday at New London-Spicer with a trip to the Section 3AA championship on the line.
“I know they have a very strong outside hitter (Kyleigh Tangen) and a very disciplined libero (Emma Stanley) in the back row,” Johnson said. “We will need to identify where their outside hitter is and move our libero around.”
Section 3AA-North Minnewaska 3, NLS 2
Minnewaska (13-14) 25 25 8 23 15
NLS (16-12) 23 22 25 25 12
Minnewaska - Serving (aces): Dreya Barsness 2, Haillie Schultz 2 … Set assists: Haley Shea 43, Avery Fier 6, Brooklyn Meyer 2, Barsness 2, Emma Poegal 1 … Hitting (kills): Barsness 24, Fier 9, Miaya Guggisberg 7, Schultz 6, Dacia Fleury 6, Shea 3 … Blocking (aces): Fier 1, Guggisberg 1 … Digs (5 or more): Fleury 20, Shea 14, Fier 12, Meyer 10, Barsness 10, Schultz 5, Guggisberg 5
NLS - Serving (aces): Avery Rich 2, Dakota Rich 1, Kendra Gerhardson 3 … Set assists: Ava Carlson 1, Ava Hauer 23, Ayla Caskey 1, Gerhardson 15 … Hitting (kills): Carlson 10, A. Rich 10, Caskey 3, D. Rich 1, Ellary Peterson 15, Emma Madison 3, Gerhardson 11 … Blocking (aces): Carlson 1, Peterson 4, Gerhardson 3 … Digs (5 or more): Hauer 5, A. Rich 7, Caskey 6, D. Rich 15, Peterson 8, Grace Truscinski 20, Gerhardson 17