It isn’t unusual for teams to experience a letdown when they end up in a consolation match rather than the compete for a tournament championship.
Marion High School didn’t have that problem Saturday when they squared off against Berean Academy for third place in the Marion Spikefest volleyball tournament. The Lady Warriors had an extra incentive on their minds — they were looking for revenge.
“Last week we let them get in our head,” said Marion head coach Deanna Thierolf. The teams met in the semifinals of the Centre tournament, where Berean ended Marion’s title hopes with a two-game match win.
The Lady Warriors wasted no time in asserting themselves in the first game. Katey Ehrlich scored the first point on a cross-court kill, and Briana Hall followed with a shot down the middle as Marion grabbed a 4-0 lead.
Berean pulled to within one point, 7-6, and had the serve, but Ehrlich hammered another cross-court winner.
When Kaelyn Thierolf scored an ace on her first serve for a 9-6 lead, the Lady Warriors went on a tear that was arguably their most dominant streak of the season.
Berean appeared rattled when Thierolf swatted three consecutive aces, knocking the next serve into the net to give Marion a 12-6 lead.
A little luck to keep a streak alive never hurts, and Marion got some when a shot by Montana Percell hit the net but somehow crawled over and dropped in for a point. Percell scored again by stuffing an errant return at the net, and Kirsten Hansen caught Berean completely out of position when she knocked a second hit over rather than set the ball for a teammate.
With the score 16-6, JayDee Schafers made a spectacular one-armed dig on a blistering Berean kill shot, and Percell capitalized with a kill of her own.
By the time Berean’s Wynette Sommerfeld ended the Lady Warriors’ streak, Marion had scored 12 consecutive points and had an overwhelming 19-7 lead. Berean never fully recovered, handing the game to Marion with two unforced errors to close out the 25-12 Marion win.
Now Berean had extra incentive — win or be eliminated. The teams hammered each other repeatedly as the lead went back and forth, including a streak of seven consecutive points when neither team could hold serve.
Thierolf called time-out when Marion fell behind 16-14. When the Lady Warriors stepped back on the court, they were ready to take command of the game.
Ehrlich got things going with a putback at the net, and Megan Richmond nailed a spike to knot the score at 16.
It was Berean’s turn to take a timeout after two miscues that gave Marion an 18-16 advantage. The strategy didn’t work, as Berean blew two more points, and Hall blasted a shot for a 21-16 lead.
Berean made a hard block on a kill attempt that shot right at Richmond in the front row. Richmond instinctively pivoted almost backward and stuck out her left arm. She connected perfectly, and the ball floated over a stunned Berean front line for the score.
Then came another Berean error, and the Lady Warriors had broken up the fierce, tight battle with a 9-0 run, leading 23-16. They closed out the match on a Berean service fault, 25-18.
“This was nice, sweet revenge,” Thierolf said. “That was just a gutty group of girls.
“There were three girls that never came off the floor all day — Megan, Katey, and Kaelyn. Kirsten was close to not seeing the bench again when she went in.”
Ehrlich was named to the all-tournment team. She led the team in assists with 35, and had 12 kills.
“It was nice for a setter to get it, because setters don’t always get the recognition,” Thierolf said. “Katey had some awesome saves, some nice sets, and really had a nice hitting day.”
Hall led the team with 30 kills, followed by Thierolf with 15, Ehrlich with 12, and Percell with 6. Hansen had 27 assists.
Marion and Berean Academy were scheduled to go at it again Tuesday in a quadrangular meet at Berean. The Lady Warriors get a week off before returning to the court for a quadrangular meet at Remington next Tuesday.
“It’s a good time to take a break and then come back and hit the second part of our season really hard,” Thierolf said.
Marion drew Eureka for the opening match of Spikefest, and put together identical scores of 25-18 in winning the match 2-0.
Next up was Halstead, and the Lady Warriors quickly found themselves in a 1-8 hole, going on to lose the first game 19-25. Marion held the lead through 15-14 of the second game, came back to take a 22-19 advantage, but faltered down the stretch to lose a close 23-25 decision.
“You’d love to have that Halstead match back. We gave them points right off the bat. Then we lost the second set 25-23. Doggone it, we were right there,” Thierolf said.
Marion had to get past Canton-Galva to qualify for the semifinal round, and it took three games. Marion won the first 25-13, but Canton-Galva fought back in the second for a 25-22 win. Marion completely dominated the third game, crushing Canton-Glava 25-8.
Powerhouse Sedgwick came into Spikefest with a 17-1 record, but had a tough time pulling away from Marion, eventually chalking up a 25-19 victory. Marion led 5-1 in the third game when Sedgwick got on track. Once the Lady Cardinals took an 8-7 lead, their relentless front line attack wore down the Lady Warriors, and Sedgwick cruised to a 25-13 win.