By Brady Ambrose
Led by some strong and more efficient play in all aspects of the game, the Caledonia volleyball team virtually locked up the #1 seed in the upcoming tournament with a 25-20, 25-23 and 25-18 win over Chatfield Oct. 11 night at home.
The win gave the Warriors a 20-6 overall record and a 9-1 mark in conference play as Caledonia got a 45 assist effort from Taylor Winjum and fought off a solid Gopher team that fell to 7-4 in conference play.
Caledonia got 22 kills from senior Emma Lange and 15 more from Maria Fruechte, and the Warriors needed every one of them as Chatfield battled the Warriors the entire night. “We wanted them to be a little more efficient tonight,” coach Scott Koepke said. “I think in the first set we had six attack errors and four serving errors so like the girls said, they thought in the third set we played some really good volleyball. Taylor had 45 assists; that’s pretty amazing for three sets.”
Fruechte added 15 kills and 13 digs, and Lauren Rusert had a dozen digs in the match.
The teams slugged it out in the early going, battling to a 13-13 tie in game one before the Warriors used a 5-1 run to go up 18-14. Kills from Lange and Fruechte put Caledonia up 21-15, but the Gophers closed the gap to 23-20 before Caledonia won game one when a kill from Chatfield’s Maddy Kamer sailed out to give the Warriors a 25-20 win.
Game two saw the Gophers grab a quick 7-3 lead when Brook Irish blocked a Lange kill attempt, but again the Warriors used a run – this time a 9-5 outburst – that cut Chatfield’s lead to 13-12. A kill from Fruechte tied the game at 14 all. A tip kill from Maddy Mullins gave the Warriors their first lead of the game at 14-13, and a 5-2 run capped by a kill from Lottie Augedahl pushed Caledonia’s lead to 19-15.
But the Gophers weren’t done as they scored four straight points to tie the game at 19 all, and a kill from Sheridan Salisbury put Chatfield in the lead at 20-19. A kill from Lange tied the score again and gave the Warriors a side-out, but Chatfield regained the lead when Caledonia was called for a net violation. With the Gophers leading 22-21 the Warriors scored three straight points and won game two 25-23 on a Lange kill.
Game three was close again early on when the score was 6-6 before the Warriors scored three straight points. Another kill from Lange made the score 11-8, and Lange added three more kills as Caledonia went on a 5-0 run to double-up Chatfield at 16-8. A kill from Augedahl gave the Warriors a 22-14 cushion but again Chatfield fought back, getting to 23-18 on a kill from Irish.
Lange then put down her 21st and 22nd kills of the night to give the Warriors a 3-0 sweep of the Gophers.
Caledonia opened up the week with a 3-0, non-conference win over Spring Grove Oct. 8, cruising to a 25-8, 25-12 and 25-12 win over the Lions. The teams met for their annual match to recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Fruechte had 14 kills, three blocks and two aces; Maddy Mullins added three aces, Winjum posted a 32 assist night to give her 77 for the week, Lottie Augedahl added 10 digs and three aces and Lange finished with 12 kills, 10 digs and three blocks on the night. Addy Cross had 12 assists, and Nicki Ellingson seven kills for Spring Grove.
The Warriors will now turn their attention to the tournament, which begins Oct. 25 with the higher-seeded teams hosting first round games. The Section 1 semi-finals will be Oct. 27 at the Mayo Civic Center, and the finals will also be at the same location Nov. 1. “We’ll just keep trying to get better,” Koepke said.