Connect with us


Monarchs extend own winning streak, halt Roncalli’s

Warner’s MaKenna Leidholt, right, reaches to tip the ball as Aberdeen Roncalli’s Morgan Helms, left, defends the net during Tuesday night’s match at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 9/26/2023

Something had to give Tuesday night and the Warner Monarchs took it in dominant fashion.

The two-time defending State B champions set the tone early, played the match on their terms and picked up a 25-8, 25-12, 25-15 non-conference volleyball victory over Aberdeen Roncalli.

The sweep was Warner’s 23rd win without a loss and halted the Cavaliers’ nine-game winning streak in front of a full Roncalli Gym.

“There was a great crowd here tonight. Obviously, Roncalli always brings a great fan base and we always bring a great fan base, so then the energy is great,” said Warner senior Ava Nilsson. “Roncalli always has a good team, so we had to come and play our hardest.”

The Monarchs sent a message right from the opening serve that they were ready to go. Nilsson said getting off to a fast start was important to prevent the Cavaliers from gaining confidence.

“It was very important just to get off to a strong start to make them think we came for business,” Nilsson said.

There was little doubt of that as Warner jumped out to a 22-5 lead in the opening set en route to grabbing the first set.

“They started off strong from the service line, and you could tell that there were some jitters on our side for sure,” said Roncalli coach Mandy Smid, “but definitely set the tone for what was to come for the match.”

Interestingly, Warner coach Kari Jung was a little concerned how her team would come out after a couple of notable victories this past Saturday over defending State A champion Sioux Falls Christian.

“We started out strong. I was a little worried, because I felt like they had a little jitters in warmup,” Jung said. “I think they felt like OK, we’ve got to do this now if we played that well over the weekend. They came out and started swinging, so then they relaxed.”

Roncalli was never able to get into a rhythm on offense, and part of reason was because the Monarchs were the aggressor throughout the match.

“Coming into this we were all very confident and ready to come out and play, give it our all, battle,” said Roncalli’s Ava Hanson. “How we played wasn’t what we were expecting, but they pushed us to the point of error, which is very challenging for us. We play teams during the season that don’t do that, so it’s a different ball game.”

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Ava Hanson, left, reaches to hit the ball as Warner’s Kyleigh Schopp, center and Ava Nilsson, right, defend the net during Tuesday night’s match at the Roncalli High School gym. Looking on at far lower right for the Cavaliers is Maddie Huber. Photo by John Davis taken 9/26/2023

The Warner hitters repeatedly took aim at the Roncalli defense as Lauren Marcuson racked up 14 kills and teammate Kyleigh Schopp added 13. The one common denominator is that nearly all of those came off of pin-point set assists from Nilsson.

Hanson said the pace of play was much different than the Cavaliers are accustomed to seeing.

“Oh my gosh, it’s so hard. Ava Nilsson is a great setter. Her sets are on point, her hitters are right there,” Hanson said. “Being a middle hitter you have get both ways and when you have a good setter like her, it’s hard to know where the ball’s going and then when it goes, it’s instant, so it’s hard to get up right away.”

The Cavaliers picked up their defense as the night wore on, hanging with Warner during the early stages of sets two and three only to have the Monarchs pull away in each set to finish off the sweep.

“They did a really nice job of controlling the net and covering,” Smid said, “the campfire was closed up, we were able to scramble some things together, but the ball just wasn’t falling to the floor.”

Warner, the top-rated team in Class B, appears to be in late-season form. Jung said there is still room for improvement as the season heads into the second half.

“We definitely don’t want peak too soon,” Jung said. “I think we have some room for growth on our passing and serve receiving. That’s what we’re going to focus on.”

Nilsson said a big key for the players is to remain focused in practice and keep pushing each other each day to stay sharp and get better.

Warner’s Ava Nilsson, center and Kyleigh Schopp, right, defend the net as Aberdeen Roncalli’s Jaidyn Feickert, left, hits the ball during Tuesday night’s match at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 9/26/2023

“Overall, it’s just competing in practice,” Nilsson said. “Even if the ‘start’ side of the court in practice is playing great, we have a great secondary team that makes us better every day in practice, and that’s something that is super critical to staying competitive and keeping our game advancing.”

Roncalli, 9-2 on the season, has a road match against Clark-Willow Lake on Thursday, before hosting Belle Fourche at 5 p.m. Friday at Roncalli Gym.

The Cavaliers will now look to start another winning streak from lessons learned against Warner.

“I’ve always thought and always said, coming off a loss is not good, but you learn so much as a team and as an individual that you come ready for practice,” Hanson said, “and you pick up those mistakes to better yourself and to better your team, and that’s how you get better as a whole.”

Serving: Warner (Kyra Marcuson 13-13 2 aces, Ava Nilsson 12-15 2 aces, Courtney Bjorgaard 18-19 1 ace); Aberdeen Roncalli 28-36 (Faith Danielson 4-4).

Hitting: Warner (Lauren Marcuson 22-24 14 kills, Kyleigh Schopp 19-22 13 kills); Aberdeen Roncalli 70-83 12 kills (Jaidyn Feickert 13-13 5 kills, Ava Hanson 18-21 3 kills).

Setting: Warner (Nilsson 59-61 33 assists, Sophia Hoeft 6-6 3 assists); Aberdeen Roncalli 70-71 12 assists (Danielson 38-39 6 assists, Maddie Huber 22-22 4 assists).

Digs: Warner (Bjorgaard 10, Nilsson 8, Haleigh Holt 7); Aberdeen Roncalli 38 (Camryn Bain 9).

Blocks: Warner (MaKenna Leidholt 2, Nilsson 1, Schopp 1, Hoeft 1, K. Marcuson 1).

Records: Warner 23-0; Aberdeen Roncalli 9-2.

Purchase a Photo

Browse By Category

Browse By Month

More in Volleyball