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Goodhue's Alex Donahue receives a serve during the second game of the Wildcats' 3-1 victory over Red Wing on Monday night. Donahue had six kills and nine digs in the win. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

Volleyball: Wildcats take down Wingers in four

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Volleyball: Wildcats take down Wingers in four
Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

GOODHUE – A solid contingent of Red Wing supporters followed the Wingers to Goodhue on Monday, where the Wildcat faithful congregated to cheer on a volleyball team full of new faces following the graduation of 10 seniors.

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But the most important fans were the four placed in the corner after game three. Those fans, of the box variety, gave a gentle breeze to a hot and stuffy gymnasium where the home team held on for a 3-1 (25-14, 25-22, 25-15, 25-21) season-opening victory.

“I’ll take any win I can,” Goodhue head coach Lindsey Mace said of a sometimes sloppy win. “I think my girls played really well as a team tonight. Game 2 that we lost, I think it was our mistakes, missed serves and miscommunication. I think we played well, and I’m really happy.”

After a solid-if-not-spectacular Game 1 win, the Wildcats committed four hitting errors early in Game 2. At the same time, Sydney Book was starting to get things rolling for the Wingers, scoring three kills to give Red Wing an early 7-4 lead.

The Wildcats fought back to tie the set 12-12, but the Wingers pushed out to leads of 15-12 and 23-18 before finishing off the set.

But the rally didn’t last as Goodhue cruised in the third set before an early 11-6 run in the fourth put the Wingers on their heels.

“Obviously, it’s not what we wanted to see. We wanted to come out with a win,” said first-year Red Wing head coach Jackie Braithwaite. “But it’s good to see those things that we need to work on and get another varsity team to play against to see where we stand.”

Red Wing has not won a best-of-five match since Oct. 26, 2011, but a fourth game in its first match could be a positive sign for a Wingers team that dressed just nine varsity players Monday night. So while a step in the right direction was taken by Red Wing, Braithwaite knows that she will have to find more depth in case an injury cuts into the Wingers depth.

“We do have a short bench right now. There’s nine girls, and we don’t want to go the whole season with just nine girls,” Braithwaite said. “Obviously we hope we stay healthy and everything, but we’re looking at eventually getting some JV girls up. We’ve been watching them in practice, but we want to see them play in a few matches first, before we do that. (We’re) trying to give them that push and the drive, (saying), ‘We have some spots open, we need your help.’”

A similar feeling permeates the Goodhue bench where Mace is trying to find the right fit in the middle to play with setter Michelle Hadler, and middle hitter Shelby Hinsch.

“For the first three games, I played three different middles alongside Shelby,” Mace said. “We’re still trying to figure it out and see who gels on the court.”

Said Hinsch of the fits and starts: “We were a little rusty. Practices don’t feel the same as a game, but I felt like we played pretty well. We gelled on the court and our bench was amazing.

Hinsch had four blocks and four kills on Monday, while Kate McNamara had a team high six kills. Hadler recorded 20 set assists and two aces. Kate Stehr had seven aces and five kills with Alex Donahue adding six kills and nine digs.

Book led both teams with 12 kills, most coming from McKenzie Cota who had 10 set assists. Maria Furlong led the wingers with 13 digs.

On Thursday, Red Wing will host Cannon Falls while the Wildcats are off until Tuesday Sept. 2 when Kasson-Mantorville makes the trip to Goodhue.

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Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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