KASSON — The expectations were flowing inside the Kasson-Mantorville gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Two of the premier volleyball teams and programs in the state were set to go at it, No. 5-ranked K-M (Class AA) and No. 2 Kenyon-Wanamingo (Class A).
K-W entered the Hiawatha Valley League battle 3-0 and with a sterling non-conference win over No. 7 Caledonia (Class A) under its belt. K-M was 6-2, one of its losses to big-time Class AAA team Champlin Park.
The evening’s drama didn’t last long. Kasson-Mantorville and its powerful serve game saw to that.
After a sloppy K-M start, it turned the night into a tidy and occasionally flamboyant show, blistering the Knights 25-18, 25-11, 25-20.
The flamboyance belonged to middle blocker Mya Suess, who had the K-M fans roaring after one roundhouse kill in Game 3. It was one of eight kills to go with five blocks by the dominant junior. Suess also put on a show to end Game 1, accounting for three of her team’s final five points with two kills and a block
“We played really well tonight,” Suess. “There were a lot of expectations because we knew that (Kenyon-Wanamingo) was a good hitting team with strong defense.”
What K-W didn’t know about K-M — and maybe the Komets didn’t know about themselves — was that they can be a torturous team to receive serve against.
K-M proved that on Tuesday night. Maddie Converse had much to do with it with her five service aces. But it was more than just her. K-M served flat and hard all match, never allowing the K-W service receivers to get comfortable on their passes. And that meant that their setters couldn’t settle in either.
When those two things happen, K-W isn’t nearly so dangerous. The end result is that Knights all-state outside hitter Ally Peterson isn’t allowed to touch the ball as regularly or in the spots where she is most dangerous with it.
It was the aspect of his team’s play that pleased K-M coach Adam VanOort most.
“Our serving kept them out of system,” VanOort said. “We served hard all night. We want our serves to be flat and clean. We train that way, and we really did it tonight.”
There was also the pace that his team maintained the entire evening. It was another pleaser for the coach.
“We were relentless on defense,” VanOort siad. “We played hard and played with confidence.”
K-W’s Peterson came away impressed with the KoMets. Especially with the way they served.
“They served us deep and hard all night,” said Peterson, who was limited to six kills and nine digs. “We usually do really well with serve/receive. But their serves were hard to adjust to.”
Kasson-Mantorville 3, Kenyon-Wanamingo 1
Kenyon-Wanamingo 18 11 20
Kasson-Mantorville 25 25 25
Kenyon-Wanamingo: Megan Mattson 4 kills, 12 digs; Julianna Boyum 5 kills, 3 blocks, 10 digs; Madi Luebke 3 kills, 15 assists, 5 digs; Leah Berg 5 kills, 3 digs; Ally Peterson 5 kills, 9 digs; Riley Dummer 5 aces, 7 digs.
Kasson-Mantorville: Maddie Converse 23 assists, 5 aces; Emilee Terry 8 kills; Mya Suess 8 kills, 5 blocks; Noelle VanOort 5 kills; Cate Wanous 10 digs; Addison Bzoskie 8 digs; Madison Cummings 5 blocks.