Martin Co. West gets by Carlton

ST. PAUL – Friday was a different day, on a different court, against a different opponent for the Martin County West volleyball team.

With all the changes, the Mavericks were able to outlast the Carlton Bulldogs 18-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-19, 15-9 in the Class A state consolation semifinals at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Carlton ends its season at 26-7.

The Mavericks (27-7) advance to face the No. 5-seeded Nevis Tigers in the consolation final at 9 a.m. today. Nevis defeated Ada-Borup 25-22, 25-20, 18-25, 18-25, 17-15 in the other consolation semifinal Friday.

“There a lot of lead swings in today’s game. I told the girls after the first game to get after it and that things would start working out for us,” said Martin County West head coach Mary Sussenguth.

Maverick senior Kate Thiesse sparked the comeback in the second game. After the Bulldogs took the opening game 25-18, Thiesse, who pounded a match-high 20 kills, spiked a Kennedy Janssen set assist to put her team up 8-4.

While the Bulldogs fought back to eventually even the score at 18-18, thanks to one of Macy Belich’s 16 kills, the Mavericks continued to attack.

Thiesse, who added 22 digs and a pair of ace serves in the win, blasted a kill down on a Bulldog pass-over, before Belich evened the score again at 19-19.

Jordan Gregory, who had 12 kills, and McKenna Taylor, who had 8 kills, sent a pair of shots to the floor to put the Mavericks up 21-19.

Then Janssen, who distributed 49 set assists, sizzled an ace serve make it a 22-19 lead.

A Bulldog hitting error, followed by a cross-court blast off the swing of Reilly Geistfeld made it 24-19.

Gregory punctuated the win with a crushing kill that soared into the stands off a Bulldog defender, giving the Mavs Game 2, 25-19.

The Bulldogs rallied for the win in Game 3 to send the match into a fourth game.

“I thought they were a good defensive team,” Sussenguth said. “They did a good job of keeping the ball in play. I thought for us that was a good thing; it helped us to play up to that level and to get better throughout the match.”

Again the Mavericks were able to find a response. Autumn Smith, who fired three ace serves in addition to making 25 digs, helped Martin County West rebound from a 5-0 deficit to take the 10-9 edge in Game 4.

“I was just really proud of the way that we kept fighting back today,” said Sussenguth. “It seemed like they would get a lead, or win a game and our girls would come right back and never gave up.”

Another Bulldog error, followed by a Thiesse attack, extended the lead to 12-9.

Hailey Leiding, who recorded 10 kills for the Mavericks, sealed the Game 4 win, sending a blast to the floor for the 25-19 win.

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead in the final game, thanks in part to two of Geistfeld’s eight kills.

The Mavericks back row also kept the Bulldogs from generating any points, with Molly Klima tallying seven digs, along with Janssen’s 13 and Haley Jensen’s 10 in the match.

Carlton’s Grace Macor, who recorded 15 kills in the match, smacked one of Hannah Benson’s 21 set assists to the floor to cut the Mavericks Game 5 lead to 12-8.

Unfortunately for Carlton, the Mavericks wouldn’t go away, with Thiesse smacking a kill to make it 14-9, before a Bulldog error sealed the win at 15-9.

“Tomorrow will be a good day,” Sussenguth said. “We wanted to come here and get a win and we’ve done that. And now we’ll just come out and play early tomorrow and start the day off right with a win.”