Volleyball: Martini paces Pequot Lakes to sweep of Warriors
Brainerd hosts Pequot Lakes Sept. 13
BRAINERD — It felt good to be a Patriots fan Thursday, Sept. 13.
After Pequot Lakes knocked off Brainerd in girls tennis 4-3, the Class 2A top-ranked Patriots volleyball team kept it going inside the gym with a 3-0 sweep of the Warriors.
Last year’s All-Area Player of the Year, Maci Martini led the way for the Patriots with 17 kills and nine digs.
“She’s just very steady and nothing rattles her,” Pequot Lakes head coach Chris Ganley said of her senior. “I just love it. She hit a few right into the block, but she would come back and use a different shot to get it past the block. She’s very calm and never gets too upset.”
Her hitting mate Ella Kratochvil pitched in 10 kills and 16 digs. Kelsi Martini recorded 22 digs as libero.
Pequot was hot from the start. The Patriots jumped to a 5-0 lead causing Warriors head coach Rick Kuehlwein to call for time.
The Warriors rallied to make it 8-8, but Pequot stretched it back to a five-point lead at 14-9.
A 6-0 run gave Brainerd its first lead of the set at 15-14.
A Martini kill gave Pequot a 20-18 advantage and forced another Brainerd timeout. The Warriors tied it 23-23 and an Anika Aho ace gave the Warriors a chance for game point.
The Warriors had a chance to close out the first set twice, but at 25-25 a Brea Eckes ace followed by a Kratochvil kill gave the Patriots a 27-25 win.
“I liked how they kept serving where we were asking them,” Ganley said. “They didn’t stray from strategy and sometimes you just have to stick with strategy to help you out and it did. The girls seemed relaxed.”
Kuehlwein said it was tough to bounce back after a crushing Set One loss.
“The kids have been a little down,” he said. “I was worried about this contest and it was just one of those nights.”
In the second set, the score was tied at 13 before the Patriots went on a 6-2 run.
Kate Stadum spiked back-to-back kills to make it 20-18 Pequot. It forced a Patriots’ timeout. Stadum led the Warriors with nine kills and 10 digs.
“Stadum was the only offense we had all night,” Kuehlwein said.
Pequot won the second set 25-21.
In the third set, Pequot led 14-10 and kept the pressure on extending their lead 19-10.
Brainerd went on a 4-1 run to narrow the third-set lead, but the Patriots slammed the door shut and closed out the Warriors 25-15 for the sweep.
The Warriors were without senior captain and middle hitter Iyana Pickar, who was sidelined with a knee injury.
“She is one of our top-two hitters and our best blocker,” Kuehlwein said. “So, it’s tough to miss a player like that and she’s an impact player.”
Kuehlwein said a bright spot in the loss was Aden Yost, who recorded 13 digs and eight set assists.
“She played a heck of a game despite the loss,” he said. “There was just something missing tonight.”
Brainerd falls to 4-5 and Pequot Lakes moves to 4-0. Ganley said the extra pressure of being the top-ranked team in Class 2A isn’t getting to her team.
“They know that I don’t think much of it,” Ganley said. “I told them that it’s a compliment the coaches think you’re good. But that will fluctuate during the season and I told them to not think about it. In the end, you have to play your game every night.”
Pequot Lakes 27 25 25
Brainerd 25 21 15
Kate Stadum 9 kills, 10 digs, 1 ace serve
Ana Bjorklund 1 kill, 1 block
Ava Loney 1 kill, 5 digs
Greta Jager 1 kill, 1 block
Anika Aho 6 set assists, 2 ace serves, 4 digs
Karley Dunham 1 kill, 1 block
Aden Yost 13 digs, 8 set assists, 1 ace serve
Emma Storm 6 digs
Abigail Paulson 1 kill, 2 blocks, 1 dig
Pequot Lakes statistics
Abi martin 34 set assists, 10 digs, 1 block, 1 ace serve
Charlee Sullivan 1 dig
Joselyn Rinio 3 kills, 1 block
Reese Laposky 1 kill
Macy Jackson 1 ace serve
Isabel Larson 2 kills, 3 digs
Brea Eckes 3 digs, 1 ace serve
Grace Hoffard 6 kills, 3 digs, 1 block
Maci Martini 17 kills, 9 digs, 2 ace serves
Ella Kratochvil 10 kills, 16 digs, 1 set assist, 1 block, 1 ace serve
Kelsi Martini 22 digs, 4 set assists, 3 ace serves
Pequot Lakes 3, Warriors 0
Key: Maci Martini’s 17 kills and Kelsi Martini’s 22 digs help the Patriots to sweep.
Overall: Brd 4-5, PL 4-0
Next: Brainerd hosts Fergus Falls 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15; Pequot Lakes at Park Rapids 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.