Volleyball: K-W impressive in win over Cannon Falls
CANNON FALLS — Kenyon-Wanamingo's run to the Class 2A state tournament in 2016 was incredible. The Knights lost just twice, and dropped five sets over 36 matches in what culminated in a third-place finish.
K-W also had a talented JV squad last year, and that was fortunate as much of the starting lineup that played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul was due to graduate. So what does Jen Nerison's new group have in store for this season? Well, how's a first-ever road victory over her sister, and third-straight 3-0 win to start the season sound?
"Maybe a little bit," Nerison said when asked if her team was a little further along than she thought they would be a few weeks into the season. "After that WEM game, is when I was like, 'Alright, I think they're ready for more of a challenge. Because Cannon falls, they had the ball back by the wall in the second set, and they almost got it over. And I turned to the bench and told the girls that (Cannon Falls) was not going to give up. Even if we're up by 13, they're not giving up. It was a good match. And this was the first time we've won here since I started six years (ago)."
The Knights jumped out to a quick lead, and stayed on the gas for a 7-2 advantage. The Bombers would cut it to an 11-9 deficit, but then K-W's defense, and Cannon Falls' hitting errors, made for a 10-1 run that the Knights would finish for a 25-13 first-set win.
The second frame was much tighter, with neither team getting ahead by more than two points until the Bombers went up 20-17. But the Knights, relentless and resilient, finished of a 25-23 win by scoring seven of the final nine points.
"We worked hard on defense, and, like my sister said, we put the ball up in the middle of the floor and going from there. Just dig up to the well," Nerison said. "We're strong in our out-of-system play. If we get out, I feel like we can still control it."
The third got out of control for Cannon Falls in a hurry. The Knights scored the first nine points and then, up 18-11, had runs of three and four points to win 25-14. And much of the damage was done by Ally Peterson, who had 14 kills, including the final point, and 22 digs. Maddie McCauley had 24 assists and 16 digs for K-W, and Megan Mattson added 11 kills and two blocks.
Cannon Falls was led by Molly Bowen's five kills, and got four each from Makayla Bowen and Olivia Thomley. Shayla Hustad added six blocks.
"One thing we have to do is reduce our errors," said Bombers head coach Melissa Huseth. "We have to do a better job closing our block in the front so we take away an area so our defense can work in the back, because they've had to work pretty darn hard."
While K-W displayed some high-level play on Thursday, Cannon Falls should be there shortly. The Bombers have just two seniors on the roster,
"We are young. These girls maybe are not making all the right decisions, but they're working hard. They listen and try their best," Huseth said. "I'm not concerned. Our effort was great. If we had just laid down and let them win, I would have been unhappy. But our effort was really good."