The Sartell Sabres volleyball team came into Brainerd Monday night looking for its third conference victory.
Four games later it got exactly what it was looking for.
The win was not handed to the Sabres. The Warriors did everything possible to make sure of it.
Surging to an opening-game 25-22 victory in a back-and-forth manner, Brainerd took to the other side of the net looking to carry on the momentum.
Unfortunately, Sartell had different plans as the Sabres scored 14 of game two's final 17 points to even the match with a 25-11 victory.
Emily Thesing returned the ball against the Sartell Sabres Monday at Brainerd High School. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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Senior Karlye Barron, who finished the night with six kills, 13 digs and four blocks, said it was disappointing to follow the excitement of game one with the effort of game two.
"We usually don't take the first game, so it gave us a huge boost to know that we could play with this team," she said. "The second game we just didn't have as much as we usually have. It was a little surprising."
But despite dropping game two, the Warriors battled the Sabres in games three and four much like the opener.
Falling behind 15-8 in game three, Brainerd responded to cut the deficit to two before eventually falling 25-18.
Game four saw the Warriors come back from an early 9-5 deficit to take the lead twice, 15-13 and 17-16, before succumbing to a 25-21 defeat, which put an end to the match.
Warriors head coach Carla Stall said Brainerd's play in games three and four showed much about her team's character.
"It was huge because we're learning to come back again and again from a deficit," she said. "I think that says a lot about the mental ability of this team."
Barron said Monday's defeat, although disappointing, helped show the Warriors are getting closer to getting
over the hump.
"We're so close to taking the whole match. We just play phenomenal as a team. It's a lot better than past years," she said. "I think tonight made us realize that we're close."
The loss keeps Brainerd out of the win column in conference play for the time being with a match at St. Cloud Tech looming Thursday.
Sabres 3, BHS 1
The key: After Brainerd took the opening game, 25-22, the Sabres responded in convincing fashion, capturing game two, 25-11. It was the first of three consecutive victories.
Conference: Brd 0-3
Overall: Brd 1-6
Next: Brainerd at St. Cloud Apollo 7 p.m. Thursday.
Stall said her team hopefully gained a sense of confidence from their match with the Sabres.
"With that (game one) win we're now starting to build a reputation in the conference," she said. "I don't think the conference expects a lot from us but I do think we're on our way up. We're getting the feel of what it is to win and you need to get that. When everything starts working right we're going to come away with a win."
Sartell 22 25 25 25
Brainerd 25 11 18 21
Karlye Barron 6 kills, 13 digs, 4 blocks
Natika Klauck 6 kills, 1 ace, 8 digs, 1 block
Emily Thesing 7 kills, 10 digs, 1 block
Tess Rahto 2 kills, 4 blocks
Krystle Radtke 1 kill, 5 digs
Angie Maurer 5 digs
Kendra Rehnblom 2 digs
Nicolette Graumann 19 set assists, 9 kill, 3 aces, 7 digs, 1 block
Carlie Kramer 3 set assists, 1 digs
Ashley Sangrait 3 set assists, 2 digs
TY RUSHMEYER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5865.
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