August 30, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Balance brings Streeters success

Sauk Centre volleyball wins first conference match

By EVAN MICHEALSON | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

With a two-match losing streak in hand, the Sauk Centre Streeters volleyball team ensured it would not extend to three on their home court.

All aspects of the game clicked into place for the Streeters, who earned a decisive 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-19) victory over the West Central Area Knights Aug. 29 at Sauk Centre High School in Sauk Centre.

“The girls were fired up to play at home,” said Jim Klaphake, head coach. “It’s a short season. You get seven conference games at home and there’s no guarantees after that. The girls went in businesslike and took care of business.”

Reigning West Central Conference MVP Mya Foslien and the Knights came in with initial momentum, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first set. However, Sauk Centre immediately reasserted itself and took control of the set, going on a six-point run capped off by an ace serve from Cierra Kortan.

“They ran out on us a little bit,” Coach Klaphake said. “We answered with some good serving and some great defense.”

Serving has long been a strength of Klaphake-coached Streeter squads, but that does not make a great serving night any less special. Sauk Centre committed only four service errors, with Maddy Schuster and Mackenzie Ritter putting forth 17-for-19 and 15-for-16 performances at the baseline and April Klaphake (11-for-11), Kortan (9-for-9) and Raya Sebek going perfect at the serve.

“If you’re missing every other serve, it doesn’t matter how tough your serve is,” Coach Klaphake said. “You want to serve a high percentage. They all don’t have to be serving awesome every set, but if two or three of them step up, it will be a pretty good night.”

Sauk Centre eventually built a lead by as much as seven points, securing a 1-0 advantage on a well-placed kill by setter April Klaphake. 

The Streeters maintained this energy in the second set, rarely being threatened by West Central Area in earning a 13-point set victory. Emily Peters, Ritter and Kortan all buried kills during a five-point run that made it 24-11, an example of Sauk Centre’s incredible offensive balancing act. Kortan led the team with 12 and 6-foot 3-inch hitter Tory Jennissen posted nine, but Brooke Rieland accumulated six of her own and Ritter and Isie Kolbo found three each.

“Tory and Cierra, they have the most experience, they’ve had a couple of years starting already,” Coach Klaphake said. “It was nice to see the other girls get an opportunity and step up and answer the ball. I thought they did a nice job of hitting it and keeping it in play.”

After falling behind 15-8 in the final set, the Knights gave some pushback and cut Sauk Centre’s lead to three, leading to a timeout from Coach Klaphake. With a chance to regroup, the Streeters returned to the court and ended the looming threat, as a nice touch hit by Rieland fell to the court floor for the 25th and final point for the hosts.

“Everybody was playing well,” Coach Klaphake said. “That was a credit to the girls that were out there.”

Sauk Centre will battle Montevideo Thursday, Aug. 31, at Sauk Centre High School in Sauk Centre.

Serving: Schuster 17/19, Ritter 15/16, April Klaphake 11/11, Kortan 9/9, Sebek 9/9 and Rieland 8/9. Kills: Kortan 12, Jennissen 9 and Rieland 6. Digs: Sebek 19, Schuster 14, Kortan 11 and Ritter 10. Blocks: Rieland 1. Aces: Ritter 2. Assists: April Klaphake 19 and Kortan 14. 

Albany Earlybird

It was not a first-place finish, but the Streeters still showed toughness and strength in their season opener at the Albany Earlybird Tournament.

Sauk Centre went 2-2 in the annual showcase, navigating the first three rounds of pool play without a loss before falling in the final pool stage to Albany and Rocori Aug. 25 at Blattner Energy Community Center in Albany.

“I played a bunch of girls; it’s early in the season and we’re figuring things out,” Coach Klaphake said. “It was a pretty good showing. It would have been nice to win the last two, but it is what it is.”

The Streeters kicked off their fall campaign in triumphant fashion, storming past Big Lake 2-0 (25-13, 25-15). After a one-round break in the action, Sauk Centre returned to the court and downed a strong New London-Spicer team in two sets, 25-10, 25-18, to advance to the first-place pool playoffs.

These rousing wins set up a thrilling Section 6AA matchup between the Streeters and the host Huskies, who found key points in clutch moments to win 2-0 (26-24, 25-21).

Sauk Centre’s introductory outing closed with a tough 2-0 (25-21, 25-13) defeat to Rocori, dropping the Streeters to third out of three teams in the first-place pool.

Serving: Ritter 55/56, Sebek 31/32, April Klaphake 26/28, Kortan 21/22, Schuster 15/16 and Rieland 12/12. Kills: Kortan 26, Jennissen 17, Schuster 15, Kolbo 12 and Rieland 9. Digs: Sebek 35, Ritter 27, Schuster 26 and Kortan 19. Blocks: Jennissen 4 and Kolbo 4. Aces: Ritter 7, Rieland 3, Kortan 3 and Sebek 3. Assists: Kortan 28, April Klaphake 27 and Sara Kittelson 13. 


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