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Warner earns sweep over Roncalli

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Ella Hanson, center, defends the net as Warner’s Ava Nilsson, right, reaches to tip the ball during Tuesday’s match at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 9/28/2021

Warner needed a win Tuesday night, and the Monarchs got it.

But Aberdeen Roncalli did not exactly make life comfortable for its guests.

After going 1-3 at the Sanford Pentagon Tournament last weekend, Warner was looking for a crucial pick-me-up in a Region 1B showdown with the Cavaliers. When the dust finally settled, the Monarchs had claimed a 25-22, 25-14, 25-21 sweep.

It was not, however, the average straight-sets sweep.

“I just got done telling the girls, it was a three-set match, but wow. There was some really, really great volleyball being played in that three-set match,” said Roncalli coach Mandy Smid. “There was some great back-and-forth, some aggressive net play, lots of extended rallies that kept going when they very well shouldn’t have.”

With Warner coming in a bit vulnerable, so to speak, after the weekend, Roncalli was able to take advantage in the early going of the match, leading 11-4 early and again 21-16 late.

But the Monarchs, vulnerable or not, refused to break. Sophomore setter Ava Nilsson served out the final six points of the set while junior Kamryn Anderson led the charge at the net with three kills in the final run to get what proved to be an important set win.

“We, as coaches, thought this win was going to be crucial for how we continued,” said Warner coach Kari Jung. “We did lose some matches over the weekend, and at times, didn’t play in rhythm with each other. So as a staff, we were really hoping we could learn from what we did on the weekend. We talked about that at practice, and we had a really good practice on Monday. I knew the girls were ready.”

After letting that opening set slip away, Roncalli faltered a bit in the second set as Warner turned up the pressure a bit. The Monarchs went from a 9-7 lead to a 17-8 advantage and never really eased up the rest of the way.

Set three, however, returned to the intensity of the opening stanza with long rallies and some back-and-forth play both at the net and on the scoreboard before Warner pulled away in the final stages for the match win.

“It was so important (to get the win),” Anderson said. “Coming out of the tournament, we didn’t have a lot of momentum, obviously. So this was a huge win for us, especially since (Roncalli) is in our region. We already have one of the toughest regions as it is, so this was a huge win, mentally and physically.”

Anderson finished with 10 kills and a pair of service aces for the Monarchs, but was not the only player to inflict damage. Kyra Marcuson had 15 kills and two blocks at the net. Nilsson passed out 38 assists.

“Obviously, we didn’t start off as strong as we should have,” Anderson said. “Our coaches told us, we can’t go out there and do it for you, so we had to do it ourselves. Our girls just bring the energy, and we play a lot better.”

Madelyn Bragg, fresh off her school-record 29-kill performance against Webster, had 14 kills Tuesday to lead the way for the Cavaliers. Bragg also had 20 digs and four blocks. Ava Hanson and Ella Hanson combined for four of the Cavaliers’ five service aces.

“The first thing that came out of anyone’s mouth when I walked in the locker room was, ‘We haven’t peaked, girls. We’ve got time,’ ” Smid said. “I think their heads are in the right space as far as coming off a loss that we take with a grain of salt and we learn from it. Now is the time to learn. We will more than likely see one of these strong powerhouse teams in our region again. … We leave with things that we can work on and things we can fix very easily. The things Warner was doing to us weren’t the things that were killing us. It was some of our own unforced errors. We can adjust.”

Roncalli (8-5) is home to face Sisseton Thursday. Warner (16-5) heads to Herreid-Selby Area on Thursday, as well.

Serving: Warner 69-73 5 aces (Kamryn Anderson 17-18 2 aces, Ava Nilsson 19-19, Courtney Bjorgaard 11-11 1 ace); Roncalli 49-55 5 aces (Ava Hanson 9-11 2 aces, Ella Hanson 7-10 2 aces).
Hitting: Warner 105-119 46 kills (Kyra Marcuson 23-28 15 kills, Anderson 15-19 10 kills, Lauren Marcuson 21-22 7 kills); Roncalli 84-94 25 kills (Madelyn Bragg 33-35 14 kills, E. Hanson 22-28 5 kills).
Setting: Warner 108-109 42 assists (Nilsson 90-91 38 assists); Roncalli 94-94 23 assists (Olivia Hanson 82-82 22 assists).
Digs: Warner 53 (Bjorgaard 14, L. Marcuson 12, K. Marcuson 8); Roncalli 97 (E. Hanson 25, Bragg 20).
Blocks: Warner 1 solo 4 assists (K. Marcuson 1 solo 1 assist); Roncalli 2 solo 8 assists (Bragg 1 solo 3 assists), Jeci Ewart 3 assists).

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