Alex volleyball makes quick work of Detroit Lakes

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.]”

Junior Amanda Christianson went up for one of her 15 kills during the Cardinals’ 3-0 win over Detroit Lakes in the Section 8AAA tournament last night. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

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.

 

Herd reaches 1,000 digs for the Cardinal volleyball team

Almost everyone in the gym knew about the impending milestone Alexandria’s Shanee’ Herd was about to reach on Thursday night. Everyone, that is, except her.

Herd was just doing her job early on in the opening set against conference leader Fergus Falls. She did what she has done so many times in her career when she got low and dug up a ball for one of her setters. This one had a little bit more meaning behind it though as Herd collected her 1,000th dig in an Alexandria uniform.

Senior libero Shanee’ Herd (6) was all smiles as her teammates surrounded her after she collected the 1,000th dig of her career on Thursday night. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

“It was unreal,” she said after the match. “I had no idea why they were celebrating. I was so confused and then when Jessica [Burns] came and hugged me with the flowers, I got teary eyed. I was so shocked.”

Her teammates and her coaches knew she was just a couple digs away but decided to keep it from her before the match. That left them anxiously waiting on the bench.

Not wanting to jump the gun, her teammates hesitated a little bit after she collected the all-important dig. Once the point was over and they were assured Herd had reached the mark, they stormed her on the court as the student section held up “1,000 Digs” signs.

“It was so fun,” Schlichting said. “I’ve never had a player do that before, and she’s a kid that deserves it. Every single dig she’s had, she works her tail off for. She’s a phenomenal player. She’s been a leader for this team for the last three years, and she deserves to be out there every single minute that she is out there.”

Herd still had some tears in her eyes when talking about it after the match. The final outcome wasn’t what she was hoping for as the Otters held on for a 3-1 win, but the way her teammates and fans recognized her on the court made for a night she won’t soon forget.

“It was amazingly fun to have a crowd on both sides with 1,000 digs in the air,” she said. “It was really, really fun.”