While losing its first seven matches of the season, and winning just three games, the Brainerd Warriors volleyball team wasn't sharp.
So head coach Lori Dean and her players made a pact: She and the players wouldn't shave their legs until the Warriors won their first match.
Dean broke out a bag of disposable razors Monday following a rousing comeback for a 25-23, 22-25, 24-26, 25-18, 15-9 victory over the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles in Central Lakes Conference play.
Kelsey Rassatt records 33 digs, 15 kills.
"We were all striving for the win," Warriors outside hitter Kelsey Rassatt said, "so we're really happy we get to shave. That's a relief."
"The coach was looking forward to that as well," Dean said of shaving her legs.
Rassatt was one of many players who enabled the Warriors to withstand a close shave against Apollo. She recorded team highs of 33 digs and 15 kills. The 5-foot-7 senior often caught Apollo out of position by tipping balls over the net to open spots on the court.
"There were a lot of holes for cut shots, and a lot of holes in the middle," Rassatt said. "I just tried to play those and I got kills off them. I just got lucky, I guess."
Rassatt's ace tip enabled Brainerd to win the opener.
Warriors 3, Apollo 2
The key: Kelsey Rassatt, Paige Olson and Kylie Abrahamson combined for 41 kills as Brainerd won its first match of the season.
Conference: Brd 1-3, SCA 1-2
Overall: Brd 1-7, SCA 2-6
Next: Brainerd at Little Falls 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Apollo regrouped to win the next two games. It rallied from a 19-16 deficit in the second game and was on the short end of a 24-23 score in the third.
Brainerd tied the match at two games apiece, winning game four on a Paige Olson kill.
Unforced Warrior errors nearly allowed Apollo to secure the victory. Dean said missed serves were her team's biggest disappointment.
"But then we did come through in the end when we needed them," she said. "Our defense was good and strong. I felt we really responded in that area.
"A missed serve takes the wind out of your sails. That's what we focused on starting in that fifth game. We talked about that we can't let that strip us of the win when we have the momentum and a great crowd that was behind us."
Olson smashed five ace serves and had four blocks to lead Brainerd in those categories. She also added 12 kills while Kylie Abrahamson crashed 14 kills.
"We played tough defense and the big swings in the front really helped," Rassatt said. "Paige and Kylie just kept it going."
Brainerd hopes to keep its momentum going Thursday at Little Falls.
"That was something we needed to do was get the feeling of (a win) because I think we do have the ability, the talent," Dean said. "We just have to get a taste, and we were good and hungry. I'm hoping this is what we will draw upon to get more."
Paige Olson 20 digs, 5 aces, 12 kills, 4 blocks
Kelsey Rassatt 33 digs, 1 ace, 15 kills
Hannah Fossum 19 digs, 2 aces, 5 kills
Jennifer Niklaus 9 digs, 3 aces, 2 kills, 50 set assists, 2 blocks
Joetta Johnson 12 digs, 3 kills, 1 block
Niki Gorvin 14 digs, 2 aces, 1 set assist, 2 kills
Kylie Abrahamson 14 digs, 1 ace, 14 kills, 2 blocks
Kelsey McDowell 2 digs
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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