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KCC volleyball defeats Warroad, WAO and places first at Minnewaska tournament

By Coach Tina Turn
KCC vs. Warroad
The Bearcat volleyball team kicked off the second week of school by traveling to Warroad, home of the Warriors, on Monday, Sept. 9. The Warriors are a AA school we usually play once a season.
In this year’s meeting, the Bearcats played an error-free first set missing only one serve and having three hitting errors. They earned 17 of their 25 points with 13 of those earned points coming off Bearcat kills, led by Marlee Turn with seven in the set and followed by Jenna Davis with four and Morgan Olson with two.
Olson also had a long string of nine serves that kept the Warriors out of system. It was a Turn kill that sealed the deal 25-12.
The Bearcats had six errors in the second set, but they provided a balanced attack with four players contributing to the kill stats. Cheyanne Scalese jumped for a huge solo block, and the defense did a fine job feeding our setter, Gracie Whitlock. Davis led the defense with six digs in set two, but it was setter Gracie Whitlock’s right-side swing that gave the Bearcats point 25 and the 25-17 win.
The final set was all Bearcats as Josie Steen, Marlee Turn and Gracie Whitlock went on serving runs that boosted the team, allowing them to score a solid 13 points off kills alone. It wasn’t a kill though that ended the match, but one of Whitlock’s three ace serves that helped her team to the 25-7 victory to maintain the undefeated streak for KCC, whose record now stands at 9-0.
This was a solid win for the team, especially on the road on a Monday. We have a hitting efficiency goal to hit at 22 percent, and against Warroad, the team hit at 38 percent. Our serve percentage was above our goal as well.
The girls are playing some disciplined volleyball and they are having a lot of fun doing it as evidenced by the way they can sustain their energy, enthusiasm and focus throughout a match.
After a road game in Warroad on Monday, the Bearcats got home to get some sleep to turn around for a conference game on Tuesday against the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Ponies in Warren.
Senior Morgan Olson served tough at the start of set one and helped her team jump to an early 9-1 lead. The Bearcats held the Ponies to only 7 points in set one, and 4 of their 7 points came off unforced Bearcat errors. Marlee Turn, assisted by Gracie Whitlock, finished set one with a big kill out of the middle to take the set 25-17.
The Ponies struggled with some rotation issues in set two, but the Bearcats maintained focus despite the delay and eased ahead to a 25-8 victory. Josie Steen clocked two aces in the set, Olson had four nice digs and two kills and Turn led the way on offense with six kills.
Seniors Olson and Turn led set three nicely with serving runs, strong offense, and solid defense. Turn ran an 11-attempts serving run, and garnered five aces in the run. Jenna Davis recorded three kills, while Olson added  pair and Turn added seven.
The night ended on a Turn block to win 25-14.
KCC now sits with a 10-0 record. It was fun to pick up another conference win. We never know what to expect from a rival like WAO, but we were looking to play consistently for the second night in a row, and that’s just what the girls did. It was some fairly error-free play by the Bearcats, and they proved to consistently be aggressive at the line and at the net.
The Cats look now to break for three days of practice before gearing up for another Saturday tournament this weekend.
KCC at Minnewaska Area Tourney
It’s important to get out of the area and play other Minnesota teams during the season. That’s one reason we choose to get up at 4:30 a.m. and drive all the way to Minnewaska Area High School in Glenwood. We made this trek on Saturday, Sept. 14 to participate in our second invitational tournament of the season.
Pool play set us up against Dassel-Cokato, Ashby and Ortonville.
We arrived just in time to eek in some warm-up time, but it probably wasn’t enough as we had a really slow start. We were down 1-6 early on and served very poorly.
Eventually things started clicking, and it was senior Marlee Turn’s nine kills that helped the Bearcats come from behind to win with a cap score of 27-26. In the tight battle, Cheyanne Scalese had a big solo block and setter Gracie Whitlock mixed it up with two kills herself.
The second set against the Chargers went much more smoothly as the Bearcats didn’t shoot themselves in the foot time and again with unforced errors. Again, Turn led with seven kills, while Jenna Davis added three and Scalese added two.
The Bearcats won 25-18.
Defensively, Turn picked up eight digs, and Josie Steen recorded four digs, with Whitlock, Morgan Olson, Davis and Shelby Pankratz all putting dig numbers in the book.
The second pool-play match-up paired the KCC Bearcats with the Ashby Arrows. It was some clean volleyball for the Cats as they only had 10 errors total in the match. In set one Whitlock went on a serving run, and in set two, it was Pankratz who had a string of 13 serves.
Overall, KCC had seven aces in their 25-10 and 25-8 win.
Turn led with 12 kills followed by Olson with three. The Bearcats passed well on serve receive, which is key to a nice win.
The Bearcats moved to the big gym for the final pool-play match, which pitted them against the Ortonville Trojans.
KCC served tough at 96 percent and 12 aces and had only six total errors in the match.
It was a balanced attack with six players contributing to the effort. Turn led with 11 kills, followed by McKenna Peterson and Scalese with four kills each, Olson with two, and Whitlock and Steen with a single each.
Passing was a season high of 2.75, and Scalese clocked one solo block in the 25-11, 25-9 win.
Having won all their pool matches, the Bearcats landed in the championship match where they took on the first-place team from the other bracket, the AA New London-Spicer Wildcats. Both teams had an undefeated record going into this match, and both teams fought hard to remain undefeated.
In set one, KCC had some sketchy passes so we didn’t get a good swing for an attack until about half a dozen rotations into the set. That meant the Bearcats had to work themselves out of a hole, which they did. Turn tied the set at 18 with a solo block and it was a point-for-point battle until three communication errors late in the set handed the Wildcats the win 21-25.
Set two was a reversal of sorts. KCC took the early lead 7-1, but late in the game, NLS tied it up at 21.
The Wildcats got the go-ahead point, but that was it as Olson went to the serving line and served out the set to win 25-22.
It was one of Turn’s 10 kills in the set that ended things. In the late surge, Scalese had an important solo block in addition to the three kills she recorded in the set.
Pankratz and Turn each had six big digs in the set and Peterson had an important serving string that kept NLS out of system. It was a great team effort.
In the deciding set, the two teams traded points until the second time through the rotation when Pankratz and Olson were at the line, Turn found the one spot open on the Wildcats’ defense. Her teammates were able to feed her the ball to smack down three kills before the NLS triple block took away that angle.
Turn and Whitlock communicated to work the five corner instead, which is where the final kill to end the match landed. There were several long rallies and big defensive plays where amazing teamwork was displayed.
At the end, Pankratz picked up three huge digs, which were key to the aggressive offense down the stretch. KCC took the set 15-12 and handed the Wildcats their first season loss to now be 12-1.
With the four tournament wins, the Bearcat record moves to 14-0. This was a good tournament for us.
Both Dassel-Cokato and New London-Spicer are well-rounded teams that challenged us a lot. Ashby and Ortonville provided us the opportunity to play at a consistent level without letting up.
The Bearcat serve receive for the weekend was the finest it’s been all season and that truly led the way for our four wins. Our serving, however, was not as strong. At 90 percent, it was below our goal. Our 26 total aces helped, but we’d like to serve at a higher rate than we did.
In our championship match with New London-Spicer, we played some of our best ball of the season.
The Wildcats put up a huge block and our players covered the court well and picked up a lot of important digs off block recovery. Our hitters found ways around the block to convert and our back row players read the Wildcat offense well and positioned themselves to play good defense.
It was just a really fun game to watch, and the girls can be proud of their teamwork, determination, effort, and focus. We have a lot to build off of this weekend, but we know the areas, such as blocking, that continue to plague us as not nearly as strong as they should be.
KCC has an important conference match in Hallock on Tuesday when they take on the Storm of Stephen-Argyle.
On Thursday, Red Lake Falls travels to Lancaster and then the Cats are off to Burnsville for the Class A Showcase Invitational, a tournament where the top 21 teams in Class A are featured.
We are pleased with where we are sitting, but there is still lots of work to do.

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