Crookston handled the Flyers 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 25-16. See clip of match point here.
BAGLEY - The Crookston Pirates gained a quick lead and, except for a single set slump, controlled the match beating the Bagley Flyers 3-1.
Sr. MB Hailey Seaver led the team in kills with nine and Sr. OH Rachel Hefta and Jr. OH/MH Kasey Cwikla followed close behind with eight and seven respectively. Seaver also led in blocks at eight while Jr. L Dani Boyle provided the most digs at 16. Hefta and So. OH Emma Boll each tallied 11 digs. Boll and Cwikla tallied three aces apiece and Sr. S Kylie Solheim joined Boll and Cwikla in the assists category with all three producing a trio of aces each.
The first set started with everything going the Pirates’ way. Cwikla led off the game with a kill and Boll recorded two aces en route to a 5-0 lead.
Once the Pirates gained a 10-3 advantage, they outscored the Flyers 9-5. Solheim earned back-to-back kills via a tip and Boll tallied a kill to help Crookston to a 19-8 lead.
At that point, Bagley rallied to go on an 8-0 run and insert themselves back in contention. A service error ended the rally and a Hefta block ignited Crookston’s 6-1 run to win the first set 25-17 capped off by a Hefta kill.
Although unsuccessful, the Flyers’ momentum from late in the first set carried over into the second set as Bagley jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Boyle ended the stretch with a kill and a block by Hefta allowed Crookston to creep closer now down 6-4.
The Pirates eventually tied the score at seven apiece and took the lead on a block by Seaver. After a ball hit out by Bagley, Seaver added another kill to award Crookston a 10-7 advantage.
Service errors committed by Bagley allowed the Pirates to keep scoring, but the Flyers managed to rally and take a 17-16 lead.
An ace by Cwikla put the ball back in Crookston’s hands and the Pirates went on to take a 20-17 lead ending on a kill by Boyle.
Despite a three point lead, the Pirates could not close out the second set and came up on the wrong end of an 8-3 run losing set two 25-23.
“I don’t know how much [Bagley] changed, I think we changed,” Head Coach Ashley Stopa said. “We came out really strong and then we kind of lull. We just kind of sit back on our heels and aren’t ready for everything.”
Set three offered a back-and-forth affair starting with a 4-1 Flyers lead. Crookston rallied to tie and and later led 10-7 with the help of a Cwikla ace and a kill by Sr. S Katelynn Genereux.
At one point, Crookston held a 14-8 lead, but watched it shrink to a 15-13 advantage. Bagley’s next serve failed to clear the net and put the Pirates ahead by three.
Once the Pirates hit the 20s, Cwikla and Boll each collected a kill, Cwikla added one more ace and Genereux sealed the penultimate win with a kill to earn the 25-19 set three victory.
“At the end of the second [set], we started to get to know each other’s spots a little more,” Cwikla said. “We switched me and Rachel Hefta. She played left and then I played middle in [the third set]. We did pretty well at that and it worked.”
In a potential clinching set, Crookston tagged Bagley for an 11-2 lead within moments as Cwikla recorded three straight kills. But five straight points by Bagley complicated matters cutting the lead down to 11-7.
This time, Crookston kept the Bagley attacks at bay and closed out the 3-1 match victory ending on a mean kill by Hefta to win the set 25-16.
“They all did amazing,” Stopa said. “Dani Boyle did a great job stepping in as libero. Rachel Hefta did a great job playing outside hitter, which is new for her. Sydney Anderson’s communication was amazing and Emma Boll, as a sophomore, had a nice first serve of the game.”
At 1-0, Crookston will return home to host the Fosston Greyhounds on Monday, August 27. Start time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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