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Volleyball: Warriors rally to cut down Lumberjacks

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Brainerd Warriors Delaney Schaeffer (left) and Avery Eckman try to block the ball Tuesday, Sept. 4, against the Bemidji Lumberjacks at Brainerd High School. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video and Gallery2 / 2

It's a good thing Brainerd Warriors head coach Rick Kuehlwein already has gray hair.

The veteran coach saw his team start slow, but rally three times to defeat the Bemidji Lumberjacks 3-1 Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Brainerd High School.

After an error-filled first set, in which Bemidji secured a 25-15 win, Brainerd refocused and collected 25-20, 26-24 and 27-25 victories for the team's first win of the season.

"We had a sophomore go in when she wasn't supposed to go in so we were out of rotation right away," Kuehlwein said. "I could tell right away this was going to be a long night. It's our gym and we wanted to win. We just needed to keep the ball in play. When we were able to get a run we had to sustain it. We didn't do that. We kept missing serves all night. We had 10 hitting errors in the first set alone."

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Warriors 3, Bemidji 1

  • Key: Brainerd stopped making unforced errors
  • Overall: Brd 1-1, Bem 0-2
  • Next: Brainerd hosts Fergus Falls 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6

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Bemidji roared out to a 10-6 edge in the second set only to have Brainerd use an 8-1 run, highlighted by an Emily Peabody kill to build a 14-11 edge. Errors continued to hamper Brainerd as Bemidji rebuilt an 18-16 lead before Delaney Schaeffer's block stopped a Bemidji run.

Senior Courtney Russell posted consecutive kills and Avery Eckman finished off the Lumberjacks with one of her team-high 18 kills for the 25-20 win.

"Early in the match, we just weren't playing as a team," Eckman said. "Throughout the match, we were able to come together. Coach Kuehlwein basically said to stop making mistakes. We knew we had to listen to him otherwise we would be running in practice."

Eckman's consecutive kills finished off Bemidji 25-24 in Game 3, but it took another Warrior rally to rebound from an 11-6 Bemidji lead. Two Eckman kills followed by a Schaeffer kill helped Brainerd climb to 16-12. Sophomore Karlie Anderson posted a tip and a block and Eckman added two more kills before her final two sealed the win.

"We rely a lot on our back row and our setters to get us the ball," Eckman said of her crucial kills. "We just keep pushing each other every day to get better and that came through tonight."

Just as Bemidji had done all night, the Lumberjacks built an 11-6 lead once again only to see Brainerd claw its way back with Schaeffer and Peabody kills to claim a 16-15 lead. Both teams traded off points until Bemidji grabbed a 25-24 edge.

Eckman's last kill of the night tied the score and two more Russell kills finished off the Section 8-3A matchup with a 27-25 victory in the final set.

"I thought Bemidji's defense was better than ours tonight, but I thought our offense was better," Kuehlwein said. "In the end, we just had more firepower. During our timeouts, I just told the girls that we're better than this. I wanted us to get our own pace going. We never did get it going. I wasn't chewing them out, but I just wanted us to get on a run and keep the ball in play. There was just too many errors. We need to cut those out."

Bemidji 25 20 24 25

Brainerd 15 25 26 27

For more photos of the match between Brainerd and Bemidji go to https://bit.ly/2wLCbmJ

Brainerd statistics

Courtney Russell 14 kills

Jenna Meyer 24 digs

Avery Eckman 18 kills

Kealy Johnson 18 set assists

Delaney Schaeffer 3 blocks

Ashlyn Sellnow 16 set assists

Abbi Bohlen 3 set assists

Jeremy Millsop
My career at the Brainerd Dispatch began May 11, 1999 after graduating from North Dakota State University. My areas of emphasis includes local high school sports, Central Lakes College, the lakes area golf mecca and once a year I dabble in the NHRA when the Lucas Oil Nationals come to Brainerd International Raceway.
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