Cheers filled the Le Center Elementary gymnasium Thursday as the Tri-City United volleyball team defeated Maple River 3-1 in the opening round of the Section 2AA South Subsection Tournament.

“The win is definitely a humbling feeling,” TCU Coach Renae Chappuis said. “The girls worked really hard to be able to persevere. They had highs and lows, but overall they played their game and that’s not easy to do.”

The Titans played with a high energy performance that only grew more infectious as the team realized they were on track to win. With excellent serving and hitting from junior setter Sam Lang, senior middle hitter Holly Schendel and outside hitter Morgan Kes, the Titans crushed Maple River in the first set 25-8.

“Sam Lang had some really good serves in our first,” Chappuis said. “She really did get us out to a rocking start with those aces that she had. Our hitters were definitely on when our passing was on. Holly Schendel had some good stuff, we had Morgan Kes who had some great hits, I had one of my defensive players, Alexis Neubauer, come in and really stuck up our back row and that made a huge difference as well.”

However, Maple River didn’t give up the match. The Eagles narrowly outplayed the Titans in the second set, earning a 25-23 win. Rather than give in, the Titans kept up their energy in later sets, leading to one of the team’s best performances of the season.

“The victory tonight was the combination of some really good serving at times and really good hitting, but overall I think it was just a consistent tempo,” said Chappuis. “We’ve been working, this year, very hard on continuing a constant mental game and tonight we proved that we could keep that same momentum, that same level-headedness throughout the game, and that was the difference tonight.”

Both teams stepped up their game in the third set, but the Titans brought in some strong defenders to deal with the Eagles’ hitters. Junior middle hitter Gracie Wenger went up to the net to block incoming hits while junior middle hitter Alexis Neubauer and sophomore defensive specialist Kaitlyn Lang took some dives in the back to shore up the Titans’ defense. Junior right hitter Jordyn Brownlee also earned the Titans plenty of kills while senior setter Ellie Singleton offered assists. The Titans went on to win the next two sets, the third 25-19 and the fourth 25-17, bringing home a 3-1 victory.

Team captain and senior middle hitter Holly Schendel pinned the win on the Titans’ attitude.

“I feel like tonight we just had a lot of energy,” Schendel said. “A lot of energy and I feel like we also had the drive, and I also feel like we had positivity all around.”

Schendel was optimistic for the Titans’ next subsection game against St. Peter.

“I feel that now that we have this win we’re going to strive more and definitely just push through and give it 110% our all. I feel like this is just a huge, big moment for us.”

The Titans, seeded No, 4, face off against the Saints, seeded No. 1, at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Mankato East High School.

Reach Reporter Carson Hughes at 507-931-8572.

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