The Underwood, Minnesota, Rockets crash landed in Breckenridge, Minnesota, Tuesday, Sept. 14 and sputtered to a sweep at the hands of the Cowgirls by scores of 25-14, 25-13 and 25-21.
Breckenridge improved to 4-0 atop the Section 6A standings, while the Rockets fell to 5-4 and 2-2 in the section.
Camryn Kaehler was efficient in the opening set, attacking Underwood’s front line with well-placed kills. When she wasn’t scoring, it was Abby Johnson who drilled the serve line with a pair of spikes.
Johnson had her best match of the young season with 16 kills and nine digs. Breckenridge was unpredictable and dynamic, as seven Cowgirls recorded at least one kill in the contest.
“In the preseason, we really emphasized using more of our hitters,” Breckenridge Head Coach Margaret Wilson said. “Especially our middles, because last year we didn’t seem to use them as much. We wanted to make them a big part of our offense and, as our passing gets better, we’re able to do that. We’re not just relying on them to block. We need to continue doing that so we have three hitters at all times.”
The highlight of the first set came when Underwood blocked Breckenridge twice, but Kaehler and Morgan Bruns kept the volley alive for set point. Kaehler littered the stat sheet with 12 digs, seven kills and four aces in the match.
“When we’re able to keep it up and keep setting back, being aggressive on our side, it was nice to see that a couple times,” Wilson said.
Breckenridge recorded seven team aces in the opening set.
“We haven’t started slow in the last three matches. Starting off strong right away just shows that we’re ready to go. We can’t let ourselves get behind right away in the first set … ever,” Wilson said.
A hesitant pace in set two gave way to an 11-2 Breckenridge scoring run which put the Cowgirls up 20-8. Kaehler deposited a gimme at the net and Addie Twidwell added a kill of her own to clinch the set.
Breckenridge opened up its attack as the match wore on, involving Lauren Beyer as a capable killer in the front row.
“Lauren has really developed her swing,” Wilson said. “I think it’s even sped up just this year. She’s gotten a lot stronger. I’d like to see her get a little more touches block-wise, but tonight there wasn’t much defense we needed to play so she didn’t have an opportunity to do that.”
The Cowgirls’ depth has clearly been an obstacle for opposing teams.
“Morgan has a really strong attack, Addie has a strong block, Tori (Undem) has a strong block and attack,” Wilson said. “We’re trying to find the right fit and it’s nice when I’m able to rotate them all in on the right side so everyone gets good playing time there.”
Underwood offered some resistance in the final set, leading 6-5 out of the gates, but Breckenridge clamped down and cruised to its third sweep in four matches.
The Cowgirls host Barnesville, Minnesota, in the Highway Nine Rivalry Thursday Sept. 16. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m.
“Be there. That’s going to be a big one,” Wilson said. “They’re always competitive, Megan Askegaard always puts together a good team. It’s Barnesville, so it’s gonna be crazy. We were missing that atmosphere a little bit tonight.”