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Volleyball: Alexandria draws dud in 3-0 loss to Willmar

Alexandria freshman Tessa McGrane (14) readies for a dig in the first set of Thursday's 3-0 loss to Willmar at AAHS. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)1 / 4
Alexandria junior Ally Albers waits for the right instant to serve in the second set of Thursday's 3-0 loss to Willmar at AAHS. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)2 / 4
Alexandria freshman Madison Heid (15) and junior Erika Roderick ready to jump up for a block attempt in the third set of Thursday's 3-0 loss to Willmar at AAHS. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)3 / 4
Willmar senior Caitlin Ogdahl flashes a smile on Thursday after recording her fourth straight ace in the second set of a 3-0 win over Alexandria at AAHS. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)4 / 4

Finding a flow didn’t come easy for the Alexandria volleyball team on Thursday. And Willmar didn’t wait around for them to figure it out.

The visiting Cardinals maintained control nearly all night, ultimately walking out of AAHS as 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-18) winners and dropping Alex to 9-11 on the season.

Three points into the match, Alex called a timeout down 3-0. They responded well, working out to a 5-3 edge and holding the lead until it was 9-8, but Willmar (15-5) roared back from there. AAHS trailed for the first time at 10-9 after an attacking error, and soon the deficit snowballed into a 19-13 hole.

Willmar expanded the lead to 24-18 on a full-out hustle play from both Callie Slagter and Abby Stark.

Slagter started it with a diving dig. She then rolled out of the way while on the ground, the shallow ball popping straight up and back down at her. Willmar chased it down and kept the point alive, and Stark did the same with another diving dig later in the long rally. The back-and-forth continued until Caitlin Ogdahl finished the marathon point with a kill.

Alexandria responded with a short, four-point run, but a service error after that clinched the 25-22 Willmar win.

It got worse before it got better in the second set, as Ogdahl had Willmar ahead 7-2 after four straight aces. Alex closed the gap within five -- at 13-8 and 16-11 on kills from Mia McGrane and Kendra Hardy -- but they never mounted a substantial rally in the 25-16 loss.

And again in the third, Willmar played a step ahead.

Alex had to play catch-up early after falling behind 5-1. They worked back within two at 10-8 on an ace by Tessa McGrane, but it was as close as they would come. Willmar built a 17-11 advantage off a Carly Wedel kill, which turned to 20-13 on a Slagter ace down the sideline.

AAHS cut into the lead from there, working back within four after a kill from Ella Grove. But Alexandria ran out of points to work with before Willmar eventually took a 25-18 final to finish off the sweep.

Hardy finished with 10 kills to lead the attack, while Mia McGrane added four to go along with two aces. Erika Roderick tallied 25 assists on the night, as well. Defensively, Mya Lesnar picked up two blocks, and Tessa McGrane had a team-high 13 digs.

Alex will look to right the ship in time for the 24th annual Runestone Classic, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at AAHS.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Echo Press in Alexandria. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Alexandria area sports updates and jokes he thinks are funny.

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