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Volleyball: Legends see success in first season

Alexandria College finished the 2022 season with a 13-9 record and nearly made the playoffs in its first season.

1.DSC_3002.Brittany Sand (Melrose).JPG
Brittany Sand of Melrose serves for the Alexandria College Legends volleyball team in the program's home opener on Sept. 7, 2022. Alexandria finishes the 2022 season with a 13-9 record and went 7-2 in home matches.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press
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Alexandria College had a couple of sports teams kick off their programs with their first seasons this fall.

This included the Alexandria volleyball program and the Legends put together a winning season as it finished with a 13-9 (10-6 Minnesota College Athletic Conference) record and won three out of their last four matches.

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Alexandria Legends volleyball head coach Mitch McGuire talks to his team during a four-set win over Itasca Community College on Sept. 7, 2022. McGuire lead the Legends to a 13-9 record in its first season.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

“We had a really good group of leaders on our team this year,” head coach Mitch McGuire said.

The program's first win came in a 3-0 sweep over Anoka-Ramsey on Aug. 26.

The Legends were in the thick of the playoff hunt at the end of the season but missed qualifying for the playoffs by just one game. Central Lakes College-Brainerd had an 11-5 record in conference matches and placed fourth in the MCAC North division. The top four teams in the division made the Region 13 playoffs.

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Alexandria's final game of the season was a 3-0 loss to CLC-Brainerd on Oct. 19.

Morgan Orbeck, who is from Melrose, led the Legends in kills this season with 213.

“She was a huge leader for us,” McGuire said. “Her drive and excitement for when she scored or when someone else got a dig, block or score was amazing. She was always jumping up and down on the court. She was always so excited. She did very well offensively and was one of our top scorers.”

1.DSC_3019.Morgan Orbeck (Melrose).JPG
Morgan Orbeck, 4, of Melrose celebrates with her Alexandria College teammates after a kill against Itasca Community College on Sept. 7, 2022. Orbeck secured the Legends' win in four sets by putting down a kill that finished off a 25-14 win. The match win moved the first-year ATCC program to 3-3 on the season overall. Alexandria finished the season with a 13-9 record.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Kimberly Pagel, who is from Benson, had 177 kills and Kaelee Lindgren, who is from Monticello, had 148.

“Kaelee played both offense and defense really well for us,” McGuire said. “Kimberly was a transfer student from Hibbing that came in as a middle blocker but we moved her outside and she ended the season playing the right side. She did really well out there.”

Kailey Fischer, who is from Brooten, had 98 kills, while Katie Rocholl, who is from Onamia, had 89, and Ali DeWenter, who is from Osakis, had 75.

DeWenter had 21 blocks this season, while Pagel had 26 and Rocholl led the team with 29.

1.DSC_2974.Ali DeWenter and Kaylee Lindgren (Monticello).JPG
Kaelee Lindgren of Monticello puts up a block against Itasca Community College freshman Lacie O'Leary while Alexandria College teammate Ali DeWenter of Osakis comes over to help out. Lindgren served a stretch of 11 straight points during the fourth set against Itasca to help her team take control of the set and match. The Legends defense was a big reason why earned a 13-9 record in its first season.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Fischer led the team in assists with 632. Fischer led the conference in assists per set with 9.72 and was second in aces per set with 0.88. Fischer led the Legends in aces with 57 while Sauk Centre native Haley Middendorf had the second most, 51.

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“She was a leader on our team,” McGuire said. “With her skill set and ability to lead, she did a great job. We couldn’t have done it without her.”

Throughout the season, McGuire said the team got comments from their opponents praising their defense.

“A lot of teams were surprised that the way they scored on other teams, they couldn’t score on us,” McGuire said. “We did really well on defense. We really didn’t let anything touch the ground. Our defense was amazing and we did a good job on serve-receive.”

The Legends have five players finish with at least 100 digs. Paige Davis led the team with 363, Fischer was the next closest at 250, Lindgren had 197, Melrose native Brittany Sand had 190, Middendorf had 137 and Orbeck had 104.

“Paige Davis was our libero this year and without her, we wouldn’t have been able to set up an offense at all,” McGuire said. “She received serves really well.”

At the end of the season, Fischer was named to the All-MCAC North Division first team, while Davis and Orbeck made the second team. Fischer made the All-MCAC first team and was an All-Region 13 player.

The Legends were strong at home in the 2022 season, finishing with a 7-2 record in matches on campus.

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Kimberly Pagel of Benson splits the Itasca Community College defense for a kill in the Alexandria College volleyball team's four-set win over Itasca on Sept. 7, 2022. Pagel was one of the leaders on the Alexandria College team that wen 13-9 in its inaugural season.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

The team had a hitting percentage of .142 this season.

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“We moved people around offensively to fill gaps,” McGuire said. “So I think we grew the most with people being flexible and playing different positions. Our serving got better throughout the year too.”

The Legends compete in the DIII level of the NJCAA and are excited about the future of their program.

“There’s tremendous excitement all across the board,” McGuire said. “We're recruiting a lot right now. We kind of have things set on defense, but we’re trying to find the big offensive players to come into our program and make sure that we can make it in the conference tournament next year.”

Volleyball is one of many sports that Alexandria College has added starting this year which includes men’s and women’s soccer and baseball. These sports joined men’s and women’s golf, eSports, co-ed competitive fishing and co-ed Clay Target as the competitive varsity sports that the college offers.

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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