BY ROB LAPLANTE
Last Thursday was “Teacher Appreciation Night” for the St. Michael-Albertville volleyball team. When the night finally ended, it was Buffalo’s teammates appreciating the record-setting effort from all-conference junior Kylee Zumach.
The 6-foot-3 middle hitter from Buffalo set a school match record with 42 kills, leading the Bison in a hard fought battle 3-1 over STMA. Zumach’s stout efforts gained her the “Kare 11 Athlete of the Week” honor.
After the Knights took game one 25-20, Buffalo battled back in game two for a 25-21 victory.
The highlight of the night came in the third game. In a see-saw battle, both teams exchanged leads several times and each team had to fight off numerous game points. The game finally was decided after 70 points were exchanged. Zumach and the Bison powered its way to a 36-34 game three victory, giving them a 2-1 edge in the match.
“Unfortunately, the emotional high of winning that game was going to be a pretty big dictator for game four,” said STMA head coach Ryan Dehnel. “For that high level of play and both teams defending off game points, it was fun. It was one of the best games I’ve been involved in.”
Senior libero Candice Yager had several key digs in the long game three. Yager finished the night with 15 digs. Sophomore Kaitlin Olson led the team with 17 digs.
Senior middle hitter Becky Hackenmueller scored three consecutive points on net kills, one of her 11 kills in the match. But the Knights could never get that game-winning point and Zumach proved to be too much of an obstacle.
“It’s hard to play against someone who can just score at will,” Dehnel said. “In a big match, when she’s playing at her highest level, that’s going to happen. It takes some mental toughness to play against someone like that.”
A worn out Knights squad would drop game four 25-16. It was the first conference loss of the season for STMA and the win improved Buffalo’s record to 11-1 overall.
Buffalo head coach Lauri Zumach said it was one of the more entertaining matches she’s taken part in. “Win or lose, that was a great match to be a part of,” she said.
STMA defeats Bluejackets , Huskies
The Knights defeated Andover 3-1 in non-conference play last Monday. They followed that up the next night with a 3-0 victory over Cambridge-Isanti.
After winning the first two games 25-19, 25-22, Andover took game three 25-19. The Knights would close the deal in game four with another 25-19 win. Hackenmueller led the way with 12 kills and Freya Macari Hanson had 10. Sophomore setter Malissa LeClaire had 35 assists and 15 digs.
The next night, STMA won a hard fought three games 25-23, 25-20, 25-20 over the Bluejackets.
Hackenmueller led the team again with 12 kills. Defensively, the Knights had four players in double figures in digs. LeClaire led the way with 15 digs, followed by Yager (14), Hackenmueller (13) and senior Paige O’Conner (11).
STMA was 6-5 overall heading into Tuesday’s match against Delano. Thursday night they are at Monticello.