Less than 48 hours removed from a five-game victory over Bishop Ryan, the Our Redeemer's Christian School volleyball team needed just three games to get by District 12 opponent Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood on Thursday at ORCS.
Senior outside hitter Ashley Koppinger led the Knights (18-8 overall, 6-0 district) with 13 kills and eighth-grade setter Morgan Olson and junior setter Brooke Knutson set up the offense with 21 and 12 assists, respectively in the victory (25-18, 25-16, 25-22).
ORCS coach Sherry Carlson gave her team as much rest as she could leading up to the game. The Knights practiced briefly on Wednesday night, but Carlson said it was nothing more than fundamentals.
Tim Chapman/MDN • Our Redeemer’s Christian School senior outside hitter Ashley Koppinger (14) and junior setter Brooke Knutson block a dig from Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood junior setter Shania Brackenbury (right) during Thursday’s match at ORCS.
"They needed rest," Carlson said. "You could tell when they came in today that they were well-rested. It helped to give them some time off."
The added rest showed early as the Knights jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the opening game with two kills and a block by Koppinger, a kill by senior outside hitter Billie Bangen and miscues by the Mavericks. ORCS led by as many as eight before MLS (9-4, 4-2) cut it to 17-16.
With two timeouts available and MLS seizing the momentum, Carlson elected to have her team work through the adversity. The Knights responded with seven consecutive points. The game ended with a net violation by the Mavericks.
"I was trying to teach them to do it on their own without always having me to get them together," Carlson said. "They took the leadership on the floor. I just wanted them to take more ownership on the floor."
Fatigue appeared to be catching up with the Knights in the second game. ORCS committed five service errors in the frame, allowing MLS to remain close. Leading 11-9, senior middle hitter Emily VanLith delivered the Knights' first ace of the match. VanLith's ace sparked a 7-0 run, but ended with a service error. Her fifth kill of the match ended the second game.
"Mohall's a good team and they have good defense," Knutson said. "It was definitely a good challenge for us."
The Knights dug themselves a hole in the third game with service errors and off-target spike attempts. A kill by MLS sophomore outside hitter Callie Carlson and an ace and a couple blocks by junior middle hitter Alex Mott gave the Mavericks a 17-12 lead. Callie Carlson led MLS with six kills and Mott had a team-high four blocks.
"We've seen our better days," MLS coach Kayla Rettig said. "We looked a little bit unaggressive. We did do a lot of things right though. We served well, we passed well. Some night we're going to pull it altogether and beat one of these really good teams."
With her team trailing late in the third game, Sherri Carlson had two timeouts to use, but again chose to have her team figure it out. The Knights closed the deficit to one with a kill and an ace by Bangen, but a service error and a hit into the net pushed the MLS lead to three. An ace by Knutson and a kill by VanLith later in the game tied the score at 21. A VanLith block gave the Knights the lead and a second block on match point ended the match.
"It's a bad habit we need to work on," Knutson said of falling behind. "I don't know how we do it, but we definitely have a determination within us."
ORCS plays next at Lewis & Clark and MLS hosts Des Lacs-Burlington. Both matches are at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.