Volleyball: Warriors slay Otters in home opener
They’re finally back.
The Brainerd Warriors swept the Fergus Falls Otters despite one regular season practice Thursday, Oct. 8, in a Central Lakes Conference match.
For the coaches and players, it was a relief to be back on the court.
“These kids are excited to be back on the court,” Warriors head coach Rick Kuehlwein said. “They’ve been wanting to get back on the court for a long, long time. They got their JO (Junior Olympics) volleyball cut off in March and then we got back a little bit in June. Our preseason practice in September got cut short and then COVID came in. The kids are happy to hit the floor.”
With few fans in attendance, the Warriors jumped on the Otters to take an 8-2 lead in the first set sparked by a 6-0 run with Karlie Anderson serving.
Anderson led the Warriors in kills with six.
Leading 14-5 in that same set, the Otters went on a 5-0 run themselves to get to four.
The Warriors won eight of the next 11 points and closed out the Otters 25-17 in the first set.
Getting the girls into game shape will be a challenge moving forward as the Warriors have had limited court time due to the two-week shutdown.
“We have to block better,” Kuehlwein said. “We didn’t penetrate too well tonight and we should’ve had more blocks against Fergus. It’s our first match. A little jitters.”
Due to COVID-19, neither team switched sides of the court to start the second set.
Brainerd again got off to a quick start in Set Two leading 5-1. The Otters answered with a 5-0 run to take a 11-9 lead.
Trailing 14-13 with Kate Stadum serving, the Warriors retook the lead for good with a 5-0 run. Brainerd won the second set 25-18.
Stadum led Brainerd in digs with 16, while adding two kills and one ace serve.
“Kate Stadum was just steady all night,” Kuehlwein said. “She did a good job. I was impressed with our serve-receive tonight. In practice yesterday, our serve-receive was around 31%. Today we were close to 60%, so that’s a good deal.”
In the third set, Brainerd grabbed a 7-2 lead and never looked back winning 25-20. The Otters never lead in the final set despite a late rally after trailing 23-15.
“Our team chemistry was really good,” Warriors outside hitter Meghan Smith said. “Service was good, offense was good, but really our team chemistry was what really brought us together today.”
Abbigayle Bohlen tallied 13 set assists and Grace Peabody added nine. Peabody smashed two aces and recorded three digs.
Madison Genz and Iyana Pickar each tallied four kills for the Warriors.
Smith tallied one kill, five digs and one ace serve. She mentioned the game felt like a JO game with no student section.
“It felt really good,” Smith said of playing a game. “Our whole team has been waiting for it for a long time to get back on the court. It was a little different without our student section, but I think our one practice really prepared us. We just came out and worked our butts off to get out here again.”
The Warriors will have two practices before playing Sartell, the reigning Central Lakes Conference champions, Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“We got to get a few practices in before Sartell because they are rated No. 1 in our region,” Kuehlwein said. “It’ll be a fun match.”
Fergus Falls 17 18 20
Brainerd 25 25 25
Kate Stadum 2 kills, 16 digs, 1 ace serves
Grace Peabody 9 set assists, 3 digs, 2 ace serves
Makenna O’Neal 5 digs
Madison Genz 4 kills, 13 digs, 1 ace serves
Abbigayle Bohlen 1 kill, 13 set assists, 3 digs, 1 ace serves
Hala Davis 4 kills, 2 digs
Kiarra Story 6 digs
Meghan Smith 1 kills, 5 digs, 1 ace serves
Iyana Pickar 4 kills, 1 block
Karlie Anderson 6 kills, 5 digs, 1 block
Warriors 3, Fergus Falls 0
Key: Warriors capitalize on Otters mistake to take an easy 3-0 win after one practice.
Conference: Brd 1-0, FF 0-1.
Overall: Brd 1-0, FF 0-1.
Next: Brainerd at Sartell 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.