BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Delano volleyball battled through adversity last week and still managed to produce some memorable moments.
By the end of last weekend’s St. Michael- Albertville Tournament, the Tigers had three key players on the bench with injuries including senior hitters Amanda Hanson and Jordan Meyer, plus junior defensive specialist Elle Heinonen.
Sophomore Brooke Lemke couldn’t play because she had already participated in three tournaments, one being a JV event.
“We still fought and believed and found a way to go 3-2 against tough competition,” said coach Rebecca Rue. “In our final match against Elk River, we were actually down 13-9 in the final and deciding set, and Kalley Koch served six points in a row for us to win 15-13.”
Delano opened the tourney with a 2-0 victory over Monticello before losing 2-0 to Southwest Christian and Owatonna. The Tigers rallied to defeat Minneapolis Southwest 2-0 and Elk River 2-1.
“I am proud of our team’s flexibility and positive attitude,” said Rue about all the lineup adjustments at the tourney. “Girls that rarely play stepped in this weekend and did an excellent job. Plus, those that normally play stepped their game up to the next level to get our team some quality wins. We are hoping opportunities like this create depth and unity for our team.”
Against Monticello, junior Shelly Seurer led with 10 kills and Hanson had nine. Heinonen added 12 defensive digs and sophomore Bria Barfnecht had three blocks.
Southwest Christian won two close games, 28-26 and 25-21. Kill leaders were Seurer with 12 and Meyer with six. Sophomore Kristin Kreklow had 23 set assists. Heinonen had 12 digs and eighth-grader Tori Hanson added 11 digs.
The loss to Owatonna was also close, with scores 25-23 and 25-18. Seurer again paced the offense with 11 kills, while Bridget Pinoniemi and Amanda Hanson each had five. Barfnecht led the defense with seven blocks and Heinonen had 11 digs. Kreklow added 22 set assists and four blocks.
Despite the injuries, Delano started to win the close ones. The Tigers edged Southwest Christian 30-28 in what could be called overtime or extra innings and won 25-23.
Kreklow provided 27 set assists and four ace serves. Kill leaders with Seurer with 11 and Tori Hanson and Pinoniemi both with eight. Heinonen led with 12 digs and Seurer had 10.
Delano beat Elk River 25-22, lost 25-15 and won 15-13. Seurer had 11 kills, four blocks and 10 digs. Pinoniemi added 10 kills. Tori Hanson had 10 digs and six kills. Barfnecht had 10 digs and Kreklow had 27 set assists to go with nine digs.
Prior to the STMA tourney, the Tigers defeated Holy Family 3-1 Tuesday and Mound-Westonka 3-2 Thursday in what Rue calls “an awesome match that was very intense.”
The match was a back and forth battle, spelled out by the first game won by the Tigers 36-34. MW won the second game 26-24, Delano won the third 25-21, MW responded with a 25-19 victory and Delano pulled out a 17-15 deciding game.
“It was Bridget Pinoniemi’s first match back from injury when she started games four and five and did a great job for us,” notes Rue. “Her senior leadership is nice to have back on the court.”
The marathon match produced some astronomical numbers. Kreklow contributed 60 set assists, while Seurer had a remarkable 26 kills and Heinonen had 29 digs. Amanda Hanson had 14 kills, 22 digs and four blocks. Barfnecht had 13 kills and led with six blocks.
Delano hopes to be closer to full strength for the playoffs. The Tigers have been without standout hitter Alex Wittinger all season due to knee surgery.
The team has three more road matches prior to the playoffs, including at Orono Oct. 11, at Hutchinson Oct. 15 and at Watertown-Mayer Oct. 22.