PREP VOLLEYBALL: Serving propels Marshall in SWC

MARSHALL – Though the Marshall volleyball team wasn’t firing on all cylinders, the Tigers got a big boost from the service line.

Lexi Saugstad went 34-of-35 with three aces to lead Marshall to a three-set sweep of Pipestone Area to stay perfect in the Southwest Conference.

“They have a couple kids that put a good swing on the ball, and we wanted to limit those swings,” said Marshall head coach Dan Westby. “We think we can do that and one way is to serve well. That always makes things easier.”

In the first set, the Tigers went ahead early and led 11-8 when Saugstad stepped back to the line for the first time.

After the dust settled, Marshall led 20-9 and the Arrows had burned through both of their timeouts. Kenzie Beekman and Callie Graff each had a trio of kills in the stretch.

“I was told to hit the seam,” said Saugstad. “When the ball did come over, my teammates made plays.”

Pipestone Area went on a four-point run to make it 21-13, but after trading serves, Rachel Sanow served three straight, inluding two kills from Beekman to end the game 25-14.

“I thought Lexi put a lot of pressure on them with the serve,” Westby said. “They had a couple kids that were struggling back there. Lexi was good enough to continue putting pressure on them.”

In the second set, Saugstad picked right where she left off and propelled Marshall to a 13-1 lead.

The Tiger attack was on point with Beekman recording five kills in the stretch.

“I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want to end my run on a miss,” Saugstad said of putting together streaks of serves.

Graff served three straight points, and after a few traded serves, Hannah Bennett got Marshall to a 23-6 lead.

A kill from Jackie Petrich and a Pipestone Area error gave Marshall the two set lead.

“Our block was getting some really good touches on it and that was really good,” said Bennett. “We just came out strong against them there.”

Coming off the high of the second set, the Tigers came out sluggish in the third set and quickly found themselves trailing the Arrows 3-1.

Marshall tied the game at 4-4 through 8-8 before Pipestone Area regained the lead 10-9.

“We had to pass well,” Bennett said. “That starts the whole thing right there. Then we have all of our options to (attack).”

With her team trailing, Saugstad stepped back to serve for the third time in the evening and catiuplted her team back in front.

Saugstad went 11-for-11 to put the Tigers up 20-10 before Haley Bennett came in and served three more points to give Marshall a 23-10 lead.

“Good serving is really important, especially the spot Lexi serves in,” Westby said. “When she’s serving it means Kenzie just rotated to the front row. Lexi has to be pretty solid from the service line because we want to keep Kenzie in the front row as long as we can.”

The Arrows made a small run, but were unable to overcome the sudden deficit and a block by Sam Onken and Mulso gave the Tigers the 25-13 win.

Marshall will be off this weekend before playing host to Tracy-Milroy-Balaton on Monday.

“This one is always a tough match,” said Westby. “And Monday matches are always a concern.

“They’ve had some good matches this year, so they will come in here ready to go and give us their best shot.”

Marshall 3, Pipestone Area 0

Pipestone Area14 6 13

Marshall25 25 25

SERVING (Made-Attempted-Aces) – Marshall (Lexi Saugstad 34-35-3, Hannah Bennett 9-9-1).

KILLS – Marshall (Kenzie Beekman 24, Sydney Griffin 9, Callie Graff 8, Marah Mulso 2).

DIGS – Marshall (Bennett 20, Griffin 13, Rachel Sanow 8, Saugstad 7).

ASSISTS – Marshall (Sanow 16, Griffin 15).

BLOCKS – Marshall (Mulso 2, Graff 1, Griffin 1).

RECORD – Marshall (23-3, 5-0 Southwest).

NEXT?MATCH – Marshall (hosts Tracy-Milroy-Balaton on Monday).