CM/C defeats GFW in 3

MORGAN – After overcoming a first-set deficit, Cedar Mountain/Comfrey did not slow down.

CM/C willed its way to a 25-22, 25-9, 25-20 victory against Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop in a Tomahawk Conference volleyball match on Tuesday.

The Cougars (10-1, 4-0 Tomahawk) trailed 10-3 early in the first set, but clawed their way back to capture the frame 25-22 – ending on an 11-3 run to steal it.

“We started out a little bit slow and then we gained our composure and finally got into our rhythm,” CM/C coach Beth Hill said. “I think [the Thunderbirds] maybe got a little bit comfortable at that point with their lead and we were really able to get into our game.”

Cedar Mountain High School hosted its Homecoming festivities before the match, which added a little extra excitement in the gym as the team got going on its way to taking the first set.

“We knew coming into this that [GFW] was going to be a good matchup for us, so we were really excited for that,” said senior libero Lauren Boyle, who was named the Cedar Mountain Homecoming Queen. “We needed to pick it up and after we regained the lead, we had all that momentum going into the second set and we were ready to go.”

The Cougars jumped out to an 8-2 lead in Set 2, during which senior Paige Richert had the first two kills and junior Erica Bock had the next three. They cruised their way behind a 7-0 run and finished the set off with the second of two service aces by Jordan Kevelin to win 25-9.

Richert led the match with 15 kills along with three blocks, proving to be a force in the middle for CM/C.

“She’s a huge threat; she’s a huge person, a tall blocker,” Hill said of Richert. “I know teams pay a lot of attention to her, but she’s able to hit over a lot of blocks and she’s so athletic that she’s able to hit any ball.”

The Thunderbirds (6-6, 2-2) regained the lead a couple times in Set 3, during which junior middle Emily Heimkes came off the bench and drilled three kills.

However, the Thunderbirds were without senior right-side hitter Emma Jo Elder, which was a big setback in trying to keep up with the surging Cougars on Tuesday.

“She’s what I would like to call the spark plug to our team,” GFW coach Stephanie Rodning said. “Having her sick with mono on the bench isn’t exactly in our game plan, but life happens and you’ve got to learn to be flexible and adjust.”

GFW tied the match at 18-18 with a kill from senior Victoria Sweely, but an attack error and a block by Makenzie Kerkhoff gave CM/C the lead for good.

Katelyn Green’s match-high fifth service ace of the night was followed by a kill from Kerkhoff to make it 23-19. Two plays later, Richert finished the match with a tip kill down the middle.

Boyle had 20 digs, while Green and Kylie Wersal had 14 digs apiece for the Cougars.

Abby Jemmings had 30 set assists in leading the CM/C offense. Behind Richert’s 15 kills, Kerkhoff had nine kills and Bock had seven.

Sweely, Haley Schwecke and Katelynn Firle all led GFW with five kills apiece, while Halley Busse had four.

GFW plays Thursday at Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s, while CM/C plays Thursday at New Ulm Cathedral.