The Kenyon-Wanamingo volleyball team is so close to a state tournament berth that they can taste it, but they still have to finish what they started.
After finishing the regular season 20-9 overall and earning a first-round bye, the No.1-seeded Knights made quick work of No. 9 seed Leroy-Ostrander in the second round of the Section 1A MSHSL Tournament Thursday.
“We played well against Leroy-Ostrander,” said Kenyon-Wanamingo interim head coach Tracy Erlandson. “I was proud of how our girls played that night. We started out strong and finished strong. We didn’t let them back in but played tough from start to finish.”
The win sent the Knights to a Saturday match against No. 4 seed Goodhue. After losing the first set 25-19, K-W bounced back to win the next three by scores of 25-17, 25-19 and 25-21.
“Playing in a different facility, we haven’t played at the civic center for probably five or six years, so we kind of struggled the first set as we were trying to get used to the court,” Erlandson said. “We had about five or six service errors, but after that we locked in in the second set and figured out what we needed to do. Madi Luebke and Riley Dummer did a nice job of mixing up our shots. We did a good job of figuring it out, took charge and went right from there.”
Senior Ally Peterson had a team-high 21 kills (.312) against Goodhue. She has 40 kills through two games in the tournament.
“Ally is our go-to when things are close or tight, but that night against Goodhue we made them have to figure out who we were going to because all of our hitters were on,” said Erlandson. “We weren’t always just going to Ally that night, which was important for us that night to make the front row from the other team figure out who was going to hit. I think we made them a little tired.”
With seven seniors on the roster, the sense of urgency is at high for K-W. The Knights face No. 2 seed Medford 6 p.m. Thursday at the Rochester Mayo Civic Center. With a win, they would advance to the Section 1A championship to play the winner of Mabel-Canton and Caledonia.
“We have really strong hitters and about six players who can hit the ball. We need to have a good front row, block and play defense,” said Erlandson. “Medford has some really good hitters as well that like to place it on the court. We have to be ready and play good defense.”
Peaking at the right time, the Knights appear to be clicking on all cylinders.
“We just have to keep playing our game. The girls are playing loose and peaking at the right time. We are doing a nice job of playing together and doing what we need to do to finish each set and not let teams hang around. Playing start to finish has been a struggle for us this year, but we’ve pushed and having a lot of fun on the court.”