The Alexandria volleyball team didn’t mess around with sixth-seeded Detroit Lakes on Wednesday night in the opening round of the Section 8AAA playoffs.
The Cardinals came in focused on the task at hand. They left no doubt in sets one and two, winning 25-12 and 25-8. Detroit Lakes came out the aggressors in the third and led most of the way until Alexandria tied things up at 17 apiece. The Cardinals never trailed again after that as they went on to win 25-18 to complete the sweep.
“We were really excited to play and play hard,” senior outside hitter Jenni Wild said. “And we’re looking forward to keep pushing hard so we can make it to state eventually. We were working to come out strong and show them what [we could do.]”
It was easy to see that on the court. The Cardinals’ offense was clicking from the get-go as they never let the Lakers believe they could pull off the upset. Alexandria finished with 35 total kills, led by 15 from junior Amanda Christianson.
“We’ve improved so much,” Christianson said of where this offense is at right now. “And we’ll keep improving at practice and everything. Our passes, first of all, have been amazing, which makes our sets better so that can lead to good kills. It’s going well and we just want to keep improving.”
Wild was second on the team with six kills, while Tara LeBrassuer and Adrianne Wensman each added five. Allie Noetzelman and Nicole Canavati put the ball on the net with 23 and 11 assists, respectively. The Cardinals’ serve receive was also clicking, led by 15 digs from Shanee’ Herd and 11 from Natalie Watkins.
“That’s so important,” Christianson said of the Cardinals’ passing. “That’s the first part of our offense. If you don’t get the pass, then you don’t get the kill or the set obviously. That’s the main thing, and we’ve been working on that every practice, serve receive and free balls. We’re getting better.”
That progression is something both Wild and Christianson have seen in almost every match this season. Christianson said they should expect to be playing their best volleyball at this time of the year, and they will need to play that way from here on out.
The Cardinals will likely have to take care of business on the road the rest of the way if they are going to put together a section run. That starts with a match against the North’s second-seeded team in Bemidji on Friday night.
The Lumberjacks posted a 20-7 record through the regular season. These two teams have already met once this year as Bemidji took a 2-0 match from Alexandria in the Runestone Classic Tournament on October 13.
“They have some really big, strong hitters and we need to get our blocks up and be ready on defense,” Christianson said. “Always have our feet ready to move. We need to be focused the whole time because you never know what can happen.”
The winner of that match will take on the winner of the South’s top seed Monticello and fourth-seeded Sauk Rapids-Rice on October 30. The section championship will be played on November 3.