Tigers sweep Mavericks at state

ST. PAUL – The Martin County West Mavericks faced a familar opponent in the Nevis Tigers during the Class A state consolation championship at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Tigers (24-10-2) had swept the Mavericks in consolation semifinals in last year’s state tournament and repeated history with a 25-19, 26-24, 25-13 victory Saturday.

The Mavericks finished the season with a 27-8 record on the season.

Tiger middle hitter Megan Norby, who cranked 16 kills the previous meeting between the teams, led the Nevis offense with 20 kills in this year’s edition.

“At the state tournament we see such strong teams,” said Martin County West head coach Mary Sussenguth. “Not that we aren’t very good, but the level of teams at this tournament is incredible. And we knew from last year that Nevis would be a very tough team.”

The Mavericks were within striking distance nearing the end of Game 1, with McKenna Taylor powering down a Kennedy Janssen set to make it a 19-18 score in the Tigers’ favor.

Taylor Drury returned the favor on the following play, sending one of Oliva Toft’s 38 set assists to the floor to make it 20-18.

A Maverick hitting error extended the Tigers’ lead to 22-18, but Taylor, who recorded five kills for the Mavericks, smacked a shot cross court to make it 22-19.

Another error by the Martin County West offense rotated the ball back to the Tigers, and Norby rocketed the ball over the net with a kill to put Nevis up 24-19 before they clinched the 25-19 win on a Maverick passing error.

“We struggled a little bit early on in the match; they were throwing some things at us defensively that we needed to adjust to,” said Sussenguth. “But we were able to make those adjustments and came back strong in the second game. I was proud of the girls for hanging in there and playing tough. They kept fighting.”

Martin County West senior Kate Thiesse helped the Mavericks to take an early lead in Game 2, crushing one of Janssen’s 26 set assists to the floor to make it a 4-3 game in Nevis’ favor.

A pair of Tiger attacking errors, followed by one of Hailey Leiding’s seven kills put the Mavericks up 6-4.

Unfortunately, the Mavericks returned the Tigers’ favor, with Thiesse and Leiding each sending swings out of bounds to even the score at 6-6.

Thiesse, who pounded nine kills in addition to her nine digs, tallied one of those blasts to take a 7-6 advantage.

With the help of a pair of serving aces by Tigers’ junior libero Ruby Vedbraaten, Nevis mangaged to stake a 10-7 mark.

Thiesse put an end to their run, powering a shot down the middle to make it 10-8.

The teams traded points, with the Tigers using the momentum to build up a 17-12 lead.

Sussenguth called a timeout to keep the game under control, and the strategy almost paid off.

Toft, who had recorded three straight aces, missed on the ensuing serve attempt, sending Jordan Gregory to the service line for the Mavericks.

A Tiger hitting error, followed by Reilly Geistfeld scorching one of her four kills down the line, cut the deficit to 17-15.

Another Nevis error gave the Mavericks a chance to even the game, and Gregory, who tallied four kills and made three digs, sizzled her lone ace of the match to the floor to make it 17-17.

Despite Nevis calling a timeout of their own, Norby sailed her next attack out of bounds to allow the Mavericks to take an 18-17 lead.

Norby then evened the score again with a swing before Drury blasted a kill to go up 19-18.

Geistfeld evened the score with a single swing, before the Tigers found a way to tie the game at 20-20.

With a 22-20 lead for the Mavericks, thanks to a pair of Tiger hitting errors, MCW was looking to send the match to a third game with a victory.

Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Tiger junior Denia Brown, who had 13 kills in the match, recorded four in the final five points to stake the 26-24 win.

A 25-13 Game 3 victory sealed the win for the Tigers.