The Cougars defeated the AA Caledonia Warriors on Monday, Sept. 17, with set scores of 25-17, 25-13 and 25-10. Caledonia had advanced to the state tournament last season.

"I was very excited with how we played against Caledonia," M-C coach Lonnie Morken said. "They were hit hard by graduation, but nonetheless are still one of the premier programs in Southeast Minnesota. They have some very good volleyball players that will be a tough team to beat by the playoffs."

The Cougars tallied nine ace serves while limiting their errors (91 percent serves in-bounds). The team totaled 42 kills in 93 attempts (33 percent hitting efficiency) and defended with 52 digs.

Belle Sand led with 16 kills, four aces and 13 digs.

Lydia Geving had 12 kills, four aces and 17 digs.

Sara Lind put away eight kill shots and got both Cougar ace blocks.

Carly McCabe set 35 assists and killed three shots.

Coranda Vickerman placed all 14 serves in-bounds, scored an ace and added six digs.

"We knew that Caledonia was good enough to beat us if we didn't execute our game plan," Morken added. "I thought we served great. Our passing was also pretty good which allowed our setter, Carly McCabe, to make some great decisions setting. Belle and Lydia were very solid hitting from the outside and Sara Lind also hit well."

At Hope Lutheran, Tuesday, Sept. 17

The Cougars downed the Patriots of Hope Lutheran in workmanlike fashion, 25-9, 25-8, 25-24, on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

The Patriots are a much-improved team this season, Morken stated. That echoes what other SEC coaches have reported. In fact, Hope came in to the contest at 5-2-0, achieving their first SEC victories (and some non-conference wins) this year in a rapidly maturing program.

"I thought they dug balls better this season than in past," Morken noted. "It was probably the best we've played against Hope in the six or seven years we've played them. We kept our focus most of the night. Again, Belle and Lydia both hit well with neither one committing an error. Our middles, Sara Lind and Sara Vettleson-Trutza, blocked very good also! Christine Lee had a huge serving run (15 points and six aces) to close out the second set."

Geving led with 11 kills, three service aces, six digs and an assist. Sand put away nine kills, got four digs, and contributed an assist and an ace.

Libero Lee fired nine aces and added a team-high 10 digs.

Lind smacked five kills and scored four ace blocks. She also had a dig.

McCabe set 28 assists, had four kills, one ace and seven digs.

Vickerman had five assists, one ace, one kill and four digs.

Sara Vettleson-Trutza had three ace blocks, two kills and three digs.

Savannah Slater and Courtney Graves each came in for a kill shot, as did Ashley Dahl.

At Spring Grove, Thursday, Sept. 19

Spring Grove broke in their brand-new gymnasium floor on Thursday with a long-delayed home opener. Unfortunately for the hosts and their enthusiastic fans, the Mabel-Canton guests came in as the number-five ranked team in Class A in the state.

Spring Grove held leads in all three sets but was eventually overtaken each time by Mabel-Canton, 25-22, 25-15, 25-14.

The Cougars (15-0, 7-0 SEC) closed the final two sets with lengthy scoring streaks, but set one went down to the wire after seven lead changes and 15 tie scores.

The Lions led 20-19 in the first set (M-C 25-22) before the Cougar offense received kills from three different players and Lydia Geving closed it out with a pair of ace serves. M-C committed half (11) of their total 22 errors in set one.

Spring Grove led for most of set two (M-C 25-15) before the Cougars gained their first lead while scoring the final 12 points.

Spring Grove had a slim 9-8 lead in set three (M-C 25-14) before M-C ran off four straight points. The Lions trailed only 16-14 until two kills and two blocks from Sara Lind sparked a closing nine-point Cougar run assuring M-C's 45th straight win in the series.

Lind had 10 kills, six ace blocks.

M-C also received eight kills from Belle Sand, seven from Geving and six from setter Carly McCabe. Geving also scored with two ace serves.

For Spring Grove, Nicki Ellingson scored with 10 kills, one block and an ace serve. Tara Solberg added five kills while Jordan Anderson supplied 18 set assists.

"Nikki Ellingson had a great first set and then we were able to contain her a little more as the night wore on," Morken said. "We had more missed serves (8) then aces (7) for the first time all season, and we also hit a season low 21 percent (hitting efficiency). Sara Lind had one of her better matches... It was a fun atmosphere to play in and you could tell how much SG had improved since the beginning of the season."

Burnsville Showcase Tournament, Sept. 20-21

Approximately half of the top 10 teams in Minnesota Class A and AA competed in the two-day Burnsville Tournament. There were a total of 16 competitors from each class.

Mabel-Canton won its pool, defeating Henning (25-19, 25-23), Canby (25-10, 25-10) and New Life Academy (25-11, 25-20). That placed the Cougars in the "gold bracket," where they defeated Wabasha-Kellogg (25-20, 25-22) before losing to Win-E-Mac (25-11, 25-12), and Southwest Christian (25-11, 25-13). Wabasha-Kellogg came into the tourney ranked number nine in the state, while Win-E-Mac came in at number four. Southwest Christian was ranked number one.

Amazingly, the Cougars played the second day (gold bracket round) against some of the best netters in Minnesota without any of their senior lineup. That's because the starting seniors (Sand, Lind, Geving, McCabe and Lee) had to leave to take the ACT on Saturday, and a different set of Cougars found themselves facing the Falcons.

"We came out and played (W-K) awesome and not intimidated at all..." Morken said. "Coranda Vickerman did a great job setting and we had a very balanced offense as Hannah Nolte, Sara Vettleson-Trutza, and Savannah Slafter all finished with six kills each followed by Courtney Graves with five and Coranda with four. We served tough and made some great plays defensively! I am sure we caught them by surprise a little when we showed up without our seniors, but our kids were up to the challenge."

Without the most experienced Cougars on the floor, Win-E-Mac and Southwest Christian were "a little too physical for us," Morken added. "Neither team made many errors so we had to earn every point and we struggled at times. We didn't quit, however, and I know all of us will remember the win over W-K for a long time. I was very proud of our girls!"

Fillmore Central won the Class A title by defeating Win-E-Mac (25-11, 25-18). Third place went to Southwest Christian. M-C finished fourth. Fifth place went to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton.

In Class AA, Kasson-Mantorville took first place, followed by Concordia Academy, St. Croix Lutheran, Thief River Falls and Belle Plaine.

Up next

M-C traveled to Houston on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Two days later, the Cougars hit the road for Glenville-Emmons. The Pierz Tournament will be the next stop for the team on Saturday, Sept. 28.

SEC Volleyball

EAST Division

Mabel-Canton 8-0 SEC (20-2 season)

Spring Grove 6-2 SEC (14-7)

Houston 5-3 SEC (11-10)

Hope Lutheran 4-4 SEC (6-8)

WEST Division

Lyle/Pacelli 5-3 SEC (9-10 season)

Grand Meadow 5-3 SEC (5-9)

Schaeffer academy 4-4 SEC (4-8)

Glenville-Emmons 1-7 SEC (1-7)

LeRoy-Ostrander 1-7 SEC (1-12)