Playing with heavy hearts, the Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights defeated the Bethlehem Academy Cardinals in three sets Thursday night.
After a car crash left one former student dead and a current Kenyon-Wanamingo student in the hospital battling serious injuries, the Knights took the floor for a matchup with BA.
It took a bit to settle in, with the teams tied at 14, but K-W got a 25-20 win in the first set. In the second set, the Knights cruised to a 25-14 win.
“That’s kind of how we’ve been going lately I feel. They just kind of start out going back and forth and then get into it,” K-W coach Jen Nerison said.
An improved BA block led to a tight third set, with BA leading at 20-19. The Knights scored six of the next eight points to win the set, however.
“Our block got good in the third set and that’s what kept us in it. We stopped being aggressive,” BA coach Tim Schmitz said. “When we were aggressive, that’s when we were scoring points in the third set.”
For the Knights, some things are bigger than sports, but there may have been no better place to be than the Castle on Thursday night.
“I said, ‘This is the best place you can be. There’s a gym full of people that want to support you, are here for you, and we’re your volleyball family,” Nerison said. “They handled it way better than I thought. I was just very proud of them afterwards because we could have very well just showed up and gone through the motions, but they were impressive.”
Ally Peterson had another impressive night for K-W, tallying a team-high 21 kills, 14 digs and two aces.
The Knights (18-6) compete in the Eastview tournament this weekend, beginning Friday at 5 p.m. A trip to Zumbrota-Mazeppa on Tuesday ends the season.
BA (6-14) takes on Owatonna 7:15 p.m. Monday. After that, it faces Hayfield Tuesday and heads to Chaska for a tough tournament attended by more state-ranked teams. Then, section play begins.
The driver killed in the auto accident was Gregory Greseth, 32, of rural Wanamingo. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The student who suffered life-threatening injuries in the accident was Micah Johnson, 18, of rural Kenyon. Johnson is a senior on the K-W football team.
On Thursday night, K-W superintendent Jeff Pesta told the crowd that Johnson was "fighting for his life". He was airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester.
Johnson began attending K-W in the 2016-17 school year after he and his family moved from Houston, Minnesota.
The accident occurred before 8 a.m. Thursday at the intersection of 490th Street and 130th Street south of Wanamingo.
Set 1: 25-21 K-W, Set 2: 25-14 K-W, Set 3: 25-21 K-W
K-W Stats: Aces: Ally Peterson 2, Julianna Boyum 1, Riley Dummer 1, Kasandra Keller 1; Kills: Peterson 21, Chelsea Gilster 7, Boyum 5, Megan Mattson 4, Hailey Lerfald 2, Ellie Benson 2, Kaitlyn Vold 1; Blocks: Lerfald 4, Gilster 3, Benson 2, Boyum 2; Assists: Madi Luebke 18, Dummer 13, Keller 8; Digs: Peterson 14, Dummer 10, Keller 10, Mattson 5, Luebke 5, Vold 4, Benson 3, Gilster 1, Lerfald 1
BA Stats: Aces: Kaitlyn Kotek 2, Olivia Nass 1, Ellie Cohen 1; Kills: Lexi Boyd 8, Abby Jandro 6, Haley Lang 4, Kennedy Tutak 3, Cohen 1, Kate Trump 1, Emma De Mey 1; Blocks: Tutak 4, Lang 3, Boyd 3, Jandro 1; Assists: Kotek 9, Jandro 7; Digs: Nass 14, Jandro 8, Brianna Radatz 4, Kotek 2, Lang 2, Chloe Kohl 2, Trump 1, Boyd 1, Cohen 1