The Alexandria volleyball team did what it needed to do on Thursday night against St. Cloud Tech.
The Cardinals (11-9) rolled through the Tigers (4-14) in three sets behind the stellar play of their defense.
St. Cloud Tech jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set before Alexandria took its first lead of the match at 10-9. After a blocking point from Maggie Anderson and a serving ace from Tessa McGrane, the Tigers took a timeout trailing 16-12.
"We did start slow tonight," head coach Mary Byrne said. "We have good leadership in our captains with Ella Grove and Mia McGrane. It helps to have that leadership on the floor. We are playing some young kids. When things break down for us, we can bounce back quicker with that great leadership."
Senior Mia McGrane gave the Cardinals an 18-14 lead before St. Cloud Tech took its second timeout. Coming out of the break, Ella Grove recorded three of the last five points to give Alexandria the 25-18 win.
Mia McGrane and Grove were dominant on each side of the net as they racked up kills throughout the night.
"They're playing really well, and their leadership skills are great," Byrne said. "They're focused and competitive players. It's been fun to coach them so far. We just have to keep it going."
The second set didn't require Alexandria to make a comeback. The Cardinals jumped out to a 15-3 lead before winning the set 25-9. Getting hands on the ball each possession was precisely how they drew up the defense.
"Our defense was key, and it was really good tonight," Anderson said. "We got a lot of touches on the ball tonight. We put a lot of work into the little things."
The third set was more of the same. Alexandria's 18-7 lead led to a St. Cloud Tech Timeout. The final point was clinched on a hitting error to give the Cardinals a 3-0 win.
"It's fun to see them play hard and go after every ball," Byrne said. "They were relentless. They did everything they could on defense to keep every ball alive. We want to build on really good teamwork and chemistry going into our final games of the season."
Alexandria's attention to the little things limited its mistakes on Thursday night.
"We pretty much practice the basic fundamentals every day," Byrne said. "It's part of all of our warm-up drills. It's about getting those touches and being very disciplined as well."
Alexandria's success this year can be attributed to several things. One of them being the way they prepare for each match.
"We have a dance in the locker room before the game to get us pumped up," Anderson said. "We also do a prayer circle to get us ready for each game."
The Cardinals are hosting a tournament this weekend before the final game of the regular season against Sartell on Tuesday. With the postseason right around the corner, Alexandria is keeping its poise.
"We have a big tournament on Saturday and have a conference game left next week," Byrne said. "This team is very disciplined at taking things one match at a time, and that's where we want to keep our focus. It is October, and everything gets ramped up for us."
ALEXANDRIA 3, ST. CLOUD TECH 0
(25-17, 25-9, 25-12)
ALEXANDRIA- Tessa McGrane 1 ace, 2 assists, 9 digs; Meg Schercliffe 2 aces, 1 kill, 13 digs; Madison Heid 2 blocks, 1 kill, 1 assist, 1 dig; Lilly Thul 3 kills, 3 blocks, 1 assist, 1 dig; Maggie Anderson 9 kills, 1 block, 1 dig; Maddie Buysse 1 kill; Erika Roderick 1 kill, 3 blocks, 31 assists, 3 blocks; Ella Grove 7 kills, 1 blocks, 1 assists, 3 digs; Mia McGrane 4 aces, 6 kills, 1 dig; Michaela Nelson 1 ace, 3 assists, 3 digs