Volleyball: Solid team effort leads Paynesville to a 3-1 section semifinal win over Minnewaska
Paynesville defeats Minnewaska 3-1 to move into Section 3AA final Saturday against Pipestone
NEW LONDON — Paynesville’s team effort fueled the Bulldogs to a four-set win over Minnewaska on Thursday and to the Section 3AA championship match on Saturday.
In a New London-Spicer High School gym full of energy and relentless chants from both fan bases, the Bulldogs defeated the Lakers 25-20, 25-16, 24-26, 25-9.
“We did exactly what we needed to do. We executed on the outside, we moved the ball around, and our defense was extremely scrappy tonight, which is amazing,” Bulldogs head coach Nicole Humbert said. “It was a great team effort. I’m proud of everybody.”
Paynesville outside hitters junior Emma Flanders and senior Kyleigh Tangen led the Bulldogs’ team effort on offense behind a 36 set assist night from sophomore setter Rayna Spanier.
Flanders recorded a team-high 22 kills with six digs and an ace block. Tangen tallied 13 kills with 11 digs and one block assist.
“We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the entire team, including our bench,” Humbert said. “Our bench brings so much energy to our team.”
Paynesville’s defensive play resulted in 49 total digs. Sophomore right-side hitter Kaydence Roeske had a team-best of 14. Five Bulldogs recorded at least five digs.
“It was very much a team effort. Our middles were very scrappy up at the net,” said Paynesville senior libero Emma Stanley, who had eight digs and two set assists. “Our hitters were doing good at finding spots and we had good defense.”
Paynesville grabbed a 2-0 set lead, but Minnewaska fought with everything it had left in the tank, forcing a fourth set after winning set three 26-24.
Minnewaska made a late-set comeback in set three. The Lakers trailed Paynesville, 23-21, before securing the set victory.
“That third set is what I’m going to remember. That was just pure tenacity,” Lakers head coach Michele Johnson said. “Paynesville has a lot of weapons out there. They play scrappy defense.”Johnson mentioned that the Lakers’ serve-receive, which is usually their “go-to,” hurt them due to jitters.
“That was the tough part,” Johnson said. “With jitters, you’re just so focused that you forget to talk and relax. If you play tense, the ball flails off your platform in all different directions.”
The Lakers saw two of their players reach double-digits in kills. Junior middle/outside hitter Avery Fier and junior outside hitter Dreya Barsness each tallied 11.
Fier added a match-high 18 digs with one ace serve and a set assist. Barsness added eight digs, a pair of ace serves and one set assist.
As the Lakers’ season comes to an end, they upset No. 3 Eden Valley-Watkins and No. 2 New London-Spicer in the Section 3AA-North playoffs before falling short against Paynesville.
Johnson had a message for her young team, which has no seniors, after the match.
“I said, ‘look at that red ribbon and silver medal.’ That’s where you start next year and you keep on building,” Johnson said of the season. “That’s what you remember.”
Paynesville, the top seed in 3AA-North, faces the Pipestone Arrows, who are the South’s No. 1 seed, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. Pipestone (25-5) beat Windom (19-11) 25-15, 25-12, 25-12 for the 3AA-South title.
“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere and having a shot with our team to go to state — we’ve never been there,” Stanley said. “I think we have a very good shot if we play good and keep up our energy.”
Paynesville 3, Minnewaska 1
Minnewaska (13-15) 20 16 26 9
Paynesville (21-5) 25 25 24 25
Minnewaska - Serving (aces): Avery Fier 1, Brooklyn Meyer 1, Dreya Barsness 2, Haillie Schultz 1, Haley Shea 1 … Set assists: Fier 1, Barsness 1, Schultz 2, Shea 33 … Hitting (kills): Fier 11, Dacia Fleury 6, Barsness 11, Schultz 1, Shea 2, Miaya Guggisberg 8 … Blocking (aces): none … Digs (5 or more): Fier 18, Meyer 9, Fleury 15, Barsness 8
Paynesville - Serving (aces): Lexy Frank 1, Rayna Spanier 5 … Set assists: Emma Stanley 2, Kaydence Roeske 1, Spanier 36 … Hitting (kills): Kyleigh Tangen 13, Emma Flanders 22, Roeske 4, Frank 3, Spanier 4 … Blocking (aces): Tangen 1/2, Flanders 1, Frank 1/2, … Digs (5 or more): Stanley 8, Tangen 11, Flanders 6, Roeske 14, Frank 4, Spanier 6