The Brainerd Warriors snapped a 38-game losing streak against the Alexandria Cardinals Sept. 11 only to see another one start Tuesday.
The Warriors' volleyball team didn't fall easy in the Central Lakes Conference battle at Brainerd High School, losing 25-21, 21-25, 25-15, 26-28, 15-12.
After an intense fourth game, Alexandria finally took control, taking the game and preventing the season sweep.
According to Alexandria coach Wendy Moritz it was the first time her team showed its potential.
"We just didn't play our best game," she said. "We were very tentative. We struggled to get our attack line and we just didn't seal the deal.
"We got the win, but we just never got our true attack, our true selves going. We could have taken care of business sooner, but we just kind of struggled through it."
The Cardinals struggled to seal the fourth game and the Warriors wouldn't go away. Falling behind 12-9, 18-14 and 22-18 Brainerd rattled off five-straight points to tie it 25-25. After the teams traded leads, Brainerd collected two points in a row, forcing a fifth game.
"Blocking was a huge part of it," said Warriors coach Lori Dean. "Our feet were moving and people were talking. They were calling balls that were touched and we had to get. There was much more communication going on. There was much more passion in them that we didn't see the rest of the night."
After the fourth game meltdown, Moritz challenged her team.
"We knew that fourth game should have been ours," she said. "I don't know if we mentally checked out or what. We opened the door a little bit and Brainerd snuck in and took it. We just said 'Prove it' after that. Get out there and let's make it happen."
Comebacks were in vogue Tuesday. The team that captured the early lead lost in each of the first three games.
In the first game, the Warriors built a 20-14 lead only to see Alexandria come back to win 25-21.
"I felt from the beginning of the match we were not hustling and we were not playing our defensive game," said Dean. "I was concerned if (Alexandria) really got started we were going to struggle. I anticipated it just by watching us and knowing we weren't at our 'A' game right at the beginning."
Brainerd's inability to procure kills didn't help. Alexandria's defense prevented Brainerd from going after the crowd-pleasers. Instead, the Warriors went to the tip. In many cases it worked, but not often enough.
Lauren Kirkpatrick finished with 40 set assists. Nikki Dehen had nine kills and Ashley Widmark and Megan Arns had eight kills apiece.
"We've had that in our system lately," said Dean. "We kind of realized that in game four that we're better off to hit the ball and to try to draw the blockers off. That was not a good point on our part to tip as much."
Widmark finished with 25 digs followed by Arns (22), Kirkpatrick (16) and Samantha Dockter (16). It was Docter's serving that helped Brainerd win game four.
Lauren Kirkpatrick 16 digs, 3 kills, 40 set assists, 2 blocks
Megan Arns 22 digs, 8 kills, 2 blocks
Maria Swanson 5 digs, 4 kills, 4 blocks
Ashley Widmark 25 digs, 8 kills
Haley Bower 15 digs, 7 kills
Nikki Dehen 1 dig, 9 kills, 1 set assist, 2 blocks
Jessie Radtke 4 digs, 2 kills
Samantha Dockter 16 digs, 1 set assist
Steffani Burton 13 digs
Conference -- B 10-4, A 11-2. Overall -- B 18-8, A 18-8. Next match -- Brainerd in Section 8, Class 3A playoffs TBA.
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