By Sam Peterson
Grant County Herald
The Knights volleyball team has been on a bit of a hot streak lately, finishing last week with a 5-1 record and a first place finish in a tournament. Along the way, Mya Foslien became the all-time leading killer and Grosz is now leading the WCA volleyball program in career assists with over 2,000. WCA pulled off a 3-1 win on the road against Montevideo Sept. 19. The one loss came at home against Sauk Centre 3-0 Sept. 22. The Knights finally capped off the week with five wins at the Parkers Prairie tournament Sept. 23.
The Knights continued their hot play and earned their fifth win in six matches against the Thunderhawks.
West Central Area started the match with a bang in the first set. The Knights hit the Thunderhawks in the mouth early in the first and sprinted their way to a huge 25-6 win.
Montevideo was more competitive in the second set, but West Central Area still came away with a 25-18 win to go up 2-0.
Montevideo fought for their lives in the third set and pulled off a 25-19 win to extend the match. “By set three Montevideo was playing as if they had nothing to lose. Our team forgot that we needed to finish plays, they had us scrambling and back on our heels,” head coach Melissa Foslien said.
In the fourth set, the Thunderhawks continued to play hard, but the Knights were able to right the ship and complete the three-set win over Montevideo with a 25-11 win in the fifth.
In another highlight for the Knights, they were able to get Sophie Sanstead back on the floor after having shoulder surgery in May. In limited playing time, she dug out two balls. “It was good to see her back and get the taste of playing again. The last two years, Sophie has been key to our defense, playing libero and defensive specialist,” coach Foslien said.
On offense, the Knights fed Mya Foslien as much as they could and she led the squad with 16 kills and was the only player in double figures. Whitney Westrom chipped in with eight kills and Macy Grosz, Madi Fagre, Izzy Puchalski and Jaclynn Nelson all hit three kills. Grosz set up most of the offense and finished with 26 of the team’s 29 assists.
At the service line, the Knights finished with three aces, one apiece from Grosz, Alaina Sykora and Wylie McNally.
On the defensive side of the net, Mya Foslien led the team in digs with 16 and was tied with Whitney Westrom for the most blocks with three. Whitney Westrom dug out 12 balls and Grosz and Fagre were also in double digits with 11 digs. At the net, the Knights finished with 11 blocks. Mya Foslien and Whitney Westrom both had three, Grosz and Nelson added two and Puchalski tallied one block.
Sauk Centre 3
The Knights had no cake walk when they hosted Sauk Centre in Barrett. The Mainstreeters came into the match with a strong 10-5 record and were tied with BOLD for first in the West Central Conference with a 7-1 conference record. Sauk Centre never blew out WCA in any set, but did win three close contests to complete the sweep.
The Knights were competitive in each and every set, but just could not finish the deal at the end of each set. The Mainstreeters won the first set 25-21. They went up 2-0 with a 25-22 win in the second set. The Knights fought to force a fourth set, but Sauk Centre finished the sweep with a 25-22 victory. “We worked incredibly hard against Sauk Centre. We came to play, we knew we would have to fight for every point. Sauk has an incredibly deep group of athletes,” head coach Melissa Foslien said.
While the team may have lost, there was a significant milestone passed by one of the athletes. Heading into the game, Mya Foslien needed 16 kills to pass 2006 grad Tana Lohse to earn the career record. “Her team did a fantastic job of giving her the ball. I think they wanted her to get it at home, and they were so happy for her,” coach Foslien said.
Mya Foslien led the team with 17 kills and Madi Fagre was also in double digits with 10. Puchalski and Nelson both chipped in with five kills. Macy Grosz was handing out assists all night long and led the team with 30 helpers. The Knights also racked up three ace serves with two from Puchalski and one from Whitney Westrom.
On defense, WCA finished with four players in double figures for digs. Madelyn Westrom led the team with 26 digs, Whitney Westrom dug out 16, Grosz added 15 and Mya Foslien tallied 11. At the net, the Knights finished with two blocks, one from Nelson and one from Puchalski.
Parkers Prairie Tournament
The Knights capped their week off with an incredibly successful tournament in Parkers Prairie. WCA played in five best of three matches, winning all five and only losing one set the entire day.
WCA started the tournament against Park Christian where the Knights were able to pretty easily control the match on their way to a 25-16, 25-8 victory. Grosz was able to record her 2,000th set assist in the match and is the only WCA athlete to pass that milestone.
In the closest match of the day, WCA took on the hosts Parkers Prairie in their second match. The Knights were trailing 10-2 in the first set and trailed again 24-21 in the second set, but managed to come back on both occasions to seal a 25-23, 25-23 sweep of the Panthers.
WCA dominated in the third set against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle. The Knights started the match strong and never looked back, cruising their way to a 25-10, 25-13 victory.
Next, WCA was up against Northern Freeze, which is a team Melissa Foslien coached for a number of years and the two coaches are past players of coach Foslien’s. The Knights did not play their best in the match, but still managed to come out with a 25-17, 25-17 sweep to stay perfect in the tournament.
The last match of the day was the closest, and was a rematch. In the finals, WCA played Parkers Prairie for the second time that day. It was a back and forth battle with neither team seizing control of the match. The Knights lost a close first set 28-26, but bounced back with a 25-22 win in the second set to force a third. In the final set, the Knights did just enough to finish with a 17-15 win to become champions of the Parkers Prairie tournament. “This tournament was huge for our confidence. This puts us at 11-6. It was good to face some of our section opponents as we don’t get a chance to play them in conference play,” coach Foslien said.
Throughout the five matches, Mya Foslien led the team with 47 total kills. Fagre chipped in with 22 kills, Nelson added 17, Sophie Sanstead tallied 13 and Nelson and Puchalski finished with 12. Grosz led the squad with 105 of the team’s 112 set assists.
At the service line, Puchalski led the Knights with six aces. Madelyn and Whitney Westrom both added five aces and Alaina Sykor chipped in with four.
On defense, Madelyn Westrom was all over the floor and led the team with 73 digs. Mya Foslien dug out 47, Sykora chipped in with 33 and Grosz added 30. At the net, WCA finished with 14 blocks. Mya Foslien led the team with five blocks, Fagre and Puchalski both had three, Nelson turned back two and Whitney Westrom finished with one.
The Knights were back on the floor Tuesday, September 26 when they traveled to Melrose. Next on the schedule will be a matchup on the road against BOLD Tuesday, October 3.