Megan Arns wasn't feeling well when the Brainerd Warriors volleyball team traveled to Alexandria to face the mighty Cardinals last week.
Based on her performance, and the outcome, one wouldn't have known Arns was ill.
The three-year varsity starter and captain collected 12 digs, 16 kills and five blocks as Brainerd stunned the Cardinals for a 3-2 victory.
"I was feeling a lot better after that game," Arns said.
The reason? It was the first time Brainerd had defeated Alexandria since Oct. 2, 1986, a span of 38 matches against an opponent that has been to nine state tournaments in 12 years.
"I don't know if people thought we could beat them," Arns said. "To get so close I don't think anyone wanted to let that go."
Brainerd lost the first game 25-17, won the next two by 25-18 scores, lost the fourth 25-14 and won the decisive game 15-12.
"It was pretty much biting fingernails the whole time," Arns said.
Warriors coach Lori Dean said the victory was a boost for a senior class that had never beaten Alexandria at any level and for the coaching staff, which includes veteran assistant Carla Stall.
"It meant a tremendous amount to Carla because of how long she's been here," Dean said. "It meant a lot to me because I knew it was kind of a mental barrier for the girls. I wanted to see them knock that down. Last year we talked about knocking down that mental wall. Now, for them to be able to actually have that happen, it should give them a lot of confidence against whoever they face, knowing it doesn't matter what opponent is on the other side of the net if we play the game as well as we can.
"I thought mental toughness was still something we had to work on. To do that at (Alexandria) was really exciting."
Arns has been the Warriors' backbone all season. She has 105 digs and leads the team in kills (111), ace serves (24), kill blocks (34) and serving (116-for-121, 96 percent). Arns was the top server in the conference last season.
Warrior athlete of the week
Sport -- Volleyball
Position -- Middle hitter
Year -- Senior
Age -- 17
Height -- 5-foot-10
Other sports -- Basketball, softball
Grade-point average -- 3.5
Memorable sports achievement -- Scoring 1,000th point in basketball
Favorite subject -- World Geography
Favorite food -- Pizza
Future plans -- Attend college, play softball
Athlete she admires -- Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter
Parents -- Chuck and Rita Arns
She is one of 10 seniors on a team that has started 7-3.
"We definitely have potential," Arns said. "People now see how good we can be because we beat Alexandria. If all of us keep our minds in it I believe we could go deep into the postseason."
Dean believes that goal is attainable because of the athleticism of players like Arns.
"Megan's quick, powerful, smart," Dean said. "Her determination is just unbelievable. She is good on both sides of the ball. Offensively, she leads us in kills. She also draws and holds her blocker, which makes our other hitters more effective. She makes openings for them.
"Defensively, she leads us in kill blocks and also is an excellent digger. She's a great server and a great serve receiver."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Justin Grunewald, cross country, won the boys' races at Little Falls and Pierz.
Christina Roberts, swimming, won two events and was on two winning relays vs. Little Falls.
Morgan Shepherd, football, passed for 212 yards and two TDs vs. Moorhead.
Blake Eller, football, had 102 receiving yards vs. Moorhead.
Will Kassulker, football, had 20 tackles vs. Moorhead.
Becka Gellert, girls' soccer, made 8 saves in a shutout vs. Sartell.
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