Winning is nice, but sometimes a losing effort can do more to help a team mature and grow towards their full potential. The Mabel-Canton volleyball team defeated two SEC rivals last week, and then took on some of the best the state had to offer in the Class A Showcase Tournament at Burnsville.

Mabel-Canton (W) versus Lanesboro 25-16, 25-10, 25-14

On Sept. 18, "Lanesboro was very scrappy and was playing extremely hard on defense," Cougar coach Lonnie Morken noted. "The first set (in particular) was extremely tight until the midway point... Fortunately for us, we were able to stick with it and finish off the set. Sets two and three we were able to establish a lead early on and play a variety of players, which is always nice to do."

The Cougars saw a solid performance from setter Carly McCabe, which allowed Christy Welscher, Belle Sand and Kristina Mengis to post some very efficient numbers at the net.

With 29 set assists and three kills of her own, McCabe ran an offense that totaled 43 kills on 84 attempts. Christy Welscher scored 11 kills, while Belle Sand put away 10. Lydia Geving and Kristina Mengis had 6 kills each. Welscher served 3 aces, while Geving, Danielle Paul and Christine Lee notched 2 apiece.

For the Burros, Madison Ming scored 2 kills and 1 ace serve. Regan Howerton had 2 kills as did Olivia Haug. Linnea Thiss contributed 4 set assists and 3 aces.

Mabel-Canton (W) at Hope Lutheran 25-12, 25-11, 25-13

Hitting the road two days later, M-C defeated Hope Lutheran. In the first two sets, the Cougars took control with early leads due to some sizable point runs, Morken said, adding that Lee went 22/23 serving in only two sets (including 4 aces). "We were able to stay fairly focused all night," he noted.

"It's always a treat to go to Hope Lutheran," Morken said. "We play on the Saint Mary's campus and usually get to watch a little of the SMU volleyball team's practice."

Sand led with 11 kills, followed by Welscher with 6. Lind and Mengis had 5 each. Geving had 11 points with 4 aces and 4 kills. All 15 Cougars on the roster saw at least one set of action.

Class A Showcase Tourney: Pool play

Mabel-Canton (W) vs. MACCRAY 25-18, 25-15

Mabel-Canton (W) vs. Parkers Prairie 25-10, 25-15

Mabel-Canton (L) vs. SW Christian 7-25, 23-25

Gold Quarterfinals

Mabel-Canton (W) vs. Win-E-Mac 26-24, 25-19

Gold Semifinals

Mabel-Canton (L) vs. Henning 25-21, 16-25, 13-15

Third Place Match

Mabel-Canton (L) vs. SW Christian 20-25, 23-25

Taking place on Sept. 21 and 22, "The tournament was a lot of fun for our kids to play in," Morken said. "We knew going in there would be no bad teams."

"We really wanted to finish in the top two in our Friday night pool so we would be able to advance to the gold tournament, which we did... Our match with Win-E-Mac (#7 in state Class A) is probably the best we've played all year."

Morken reported that the Cougars played well in three out of four sets in the two losses to SW Christian, the No. 5 team in class A. Henning, he said, was a surprise. The Hornets upset Nevis to win their pool. "They were a tall, veteran team that did a lot of unorthodox things to keep us off balance. We were right where we wanted to be at the end of the third set. We got a great swing on match point, but unfortunately it went wide and we lost."

The effort wasn't disappointing but the loss was, he added. By playing against the best, the Cougars are hoping to take their game to the next level.

"We really wanted to win and advance to the finals to play W-K!" Morken said. "Overall, our blocking improved a great deal, and we started playing quicker on offense and defense. We got exactly out of the tournament what we were hoping for."

The Falcons of Wabasha-Kellogg remained undefeated in the tournament, defeating Nevis, Southwest Christian and Henning in the Gold round. They are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 1A.

Cumulative stats for the two-day event show the Cougars hitting at 27 percent efficiency, with 169 kills on 425 attempts and 56 errors. Sand led with 62 kills, followed by Geving (40), McCabe (20), Mengis (19), and Welscher (18). Geving earned 33 points (including a team-high 13 aces), while Paul had 31. Sand recorded 66 digs. Lee dug out 58, Geving 43, and McCabe 36. Welscher and Lind each had 6 ace blocks.

Up next:

The Cougars were to play at Spring Grove on Sept. 25. Two days later, they will travel to Houston. On Saturday, Sept. 29, M-C will play at the Pierz Tournament.