Tigers sweep Cougars in Section 2A

SPRINGFIELD – The Cedar Mountain/Comfrey volleyball team’s only two victories on the season came against Tomahawk Conference rival Springfield.

In a Section 2A preliminary match on Monday night, No. 6-seeded Springfield got its revenge in sweeping No. 11-seeded CM/C (25-21, 25-23, 25-17) to advance in postseason play.

“I think we just let them get into our heads too easily,” said Springfield senior Heidi Veenstra. “For this game, we really focused on discipline and we knew that we had to buckle down and really get it done.”

Veenstra said she and her teammates tended to overlook the Cougars (2-21, 1-7 Tomahawk Conference), which came back to bite them both times.

However, third time was a charm for the Tigers (12-15-2, 3-5) in squeezing out of a pair of tough sets by narrow margins and overpowering the Cougars in the third en route to the victory.

“In my opinion, they came out with a vengeance – they didn’t want to lose to us three times in a row especially since they’re the only ones we’ve beaten this year,” said CM/C coach Tami Martin. “We’ve had so many close matches this year, it could have gone either way so many times.”

A kill by Molly Dunn tied the first set 18-18 – the ninth tie up to that point. From there, the Tigers won the final stretch 7-3 to take the first set 25-21.

Springfield jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second set before Martin called a timeout. Springfield held the lead until a kill by CM/C senior Karliana Kelly tied the match at 16-16. A tip kill by Veenstra following a Springfield attack error tied the match at 17-17.

The next two points came in the same fashion, except with Taylor Milbrath getting the tying kill to make it 18-18. That aggressiveness in persistently fighting back eventually helped the Tigers on their way to a 25-23 second-set victory.

“We’ve always struggled with staying aggressive the whole game – we tend to get down on ourselves,” Veenstra said. “Coach has been pushing us with that a lot lately and we’re getting it.”

Veenstra led all scorers with 13 kills on the night, which was a credit to the Tigers’ passing.

“We passed really well – if we don’t pass well, Heidi gets taken out of the game or both of our middles get taken out of the game,” said Springfield coach Tiffany Thedens. “Heidi got her job done when it mattered.”

Milbrath finished with seven kills and Sonja Fiedler had six. For CM/C, Courtney Nelsen led the team in kills with eight, while Kelly had six.

The Cougars finish their season 2-21, but Martin said she is optimistic for next season with the talent she has coming back.

“We have three or four starting sophomores and they’re young girls, they’re just learning,” Martin said. “Our senior, Karliana Kelly, you see how amazing she is but now she’s gone. We got her developed, but we didn’t have a huge supporting cast for her. Next year, we’re going to have a lot of juniors and seniors and it should look a lot different.”

Springfield advances in Section 2A to face No. 3 Mankato Loyola at 7 p.m. on Thursday night.

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