Wabasso defeats St. Mary’s

SLEEPY EYE – Chelsey Guetter and Morgan Frank closed out Wabasso’s regular season conference schedule with a bang.

The hard-hitting tandem combined for 25 kills in Wabasso’s sweep of Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (25-15, 25-23, 25-14) on Thursday night to put it in a three-way tie with Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart and Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop atop the Tomahawk Conference.

Aside from Guetter and Frank’s offensive firepower, Wabasso coach Barb Johnson said her team’s play was best described as “sloppy.”

“Our passes aren’t very precise and our serve receive struggled a little bit,” Johnson said. “And then we allow teams to get points that they really haven’t earned.”

The win for Wabasso (15-3-3, 7-1 Tomahawk Conference) marks the third-straight time it has swept St. Mary’s dating back to 2011. St. Mary’s (7-9, 1-6) has not beaten Wabasso since 2008.

The Knights had some firepower of their own in middle hitters Becca Schmitz and Deonna Brinkman, but were not able to get into the right mindset come game time.

“I think we knew Wabasso was a very good team and I don’t know if we came into it thinking that we’re going to beat them,” said St. Mary’s coach Jen Walter. “I think we came in with the mentality that they’re good.”

Despite that, St. Mary’s managed to jump out to a 5-0 lead that had contributions from two attack errors by Guetter – both of which sailed out of bounds.

“It’s frustrating, but you just have to think about getting the next one,” Guetter said. “You get a couple errors, but you can make up for it.”

Make up for it Guetter did, knocking home five kills in leading the Rabbits to a 25-15 first-set victory.

The second set was closer, however, with both teams jostling for an edge until the last few points.

St. Mary’s held the biggest lead of the set after a kill by Becca Schwartz gave it a 6-2 lead. The teams stayed neck-and-neck from that point on.

Six kills from Frank and four from Guetter were the difference-makers for Wabasso as it went onto win the second set 25-23 to take a 2-0 lead.

“When Morgan hits somebody in the face or hits it hard at somebody, it definitely brings them down and it helps all the other hitters,” Johnson said. “Then the defense is on [its] heels immediately.”

Despite the two-point loss, Walter said the second set showed some promising signs of her team.

“We kind of struggled at finishing games in those tight ones, we have a really hard time finishing,” Walter said. “Working on that confidence and going with what’s working – hitting the ball and being aggressive – is what we really need to improve on.”

Frank led the Rabbits with five more kills in their 25-14 win in the third set for the sweep – their sixth in conference matches this season.

Wabasso has a week of rest and fine-tuning before its regular-season finale against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton on Oct. 14, which will provide one more opportunity to erase the sloppiness before section play begins.

“We have these next two weeks to really prepare for our first playoff game,” Guetter said. “We’re hoping to get Top 4 in the section – something that we haven’t done in a while [and] we haven’t been conference champs in a while. With six seniors on the team, we’re finally ready to have a shot to get to state. We’ll give it all we’ve got.”

Walter said her players are not too pleased with their standing in the bottom half of the conference, but know that finishing close sets is key to ascending in the standings.

“I think we are a better team than our record shows,” Walter said. “We had a lot of five-game sets early on in the season that I feel could have went either way, we’ve just had a tough time finishing those.”

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