By Brady Ambrose
Caledonia volleyball coach Scott Koepke knows that his talented group of seniors will shoulder much of the load this season, and that’s exactly what they did as the Warriors opened up the 2012 season with a 25-22, 25-16, 25-23 win over Fillmore Central at home Thursday night.
Emma Lange and Maria Fruechte combined for 28 kills, and setter Taylor Winjum added 34 assists as the Warriors fought off a pesky Falcons team that hung around with the defending conference champion the entire night.
“The girls had a wonderful attitude tonight, a great effort,” Koepke said. “I’m very, very happy with the way they handled themselves when the stress was on.”
It was a tough match for the Warriors all night as Central’s Taylor Case gave the Caledonia defense all they could handle.
“She’s an awesome attacker,” Koepke said.
With a 16-12 lead in game one Caledonia was forced to call a time out after a kill from Central’s Victoria Peterson capped a 7-3 run and tied the game at 19 all. But the Warriors then out scored Central 6-3 down the stretch and won game one on a kill from senior Maddy Mullins for the 25-22 final.
Game two was Caledonia’s biggest margin of victory at 25-16. The Warriors jumped out to a 5-1 lead early and extended the margin to 17-10. Lange then recorded one of her three and half blocks and added two straight kills to put the Warriors up 24-15. A kill from Fruechte gave Caledonia the nine point win in game two.
Fillmore then nearly won game three. Trailing 9-4 the Falcons stormed back and knotted the score at 17 all and then took the lead at 18-17 when Larissa Armstrong blocked a kill attempt from Fruechte.
But Fruechte returned the favor, blocking a kill from Lange to tie the game at 18.
Still tied at 19 Lange gave Caledonia the lead on a quick set deep into the back row that caught Central off guard and two straight kills from Lange, which put the Warriors up 22-20.
The Falcons were then whistled for touching the ball four times, and Winjum dropped another quick set into an open court for a 24-21 lead.
Fillmore then scored two straight points to close the gap to 24-23, but another big kill from Mullins gave the Warriors a 25-23 win for the sweep.
“Some of the things we’ve been working on we did very well at; some we need to keep getting better at,” Koepke said. “The kids really understand our weaknesses. We can work to fix all the little things but the attitude is really awesome, it was a good start.”
Emma Lange led the Warriors with 17 kills and 3 and half blocks while Fruechte added 11 kills. Caledonia returns to action with a trip to PEM Sept. 4 before returning home to host Wabasha-Kellogg Sept. 6.