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SECOND SEASON

Gaels clear their first tourney hurdle

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Kierstin Clark of St. Edmond reacts to her team scoring a point on Monday in the Gael gym. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

The St. Edmond volleyball team wasted little time in taking care of their first postseason assignment here Monday night.

Behind an effective offense and strong service game, the Gaels swept Paton-Churdan in Class 1A, Region 4 play.

Scores were 25-17, 25-15 and 25-15.

St. Edmond (9-21 overall) advances to face seventh-ranked Newell-Fonda (26-3) on Wednesday in Newell at 7 p.m. The Mustangs had a bye into the quarterfinals.

“We just really came out focused and ready to go,” SEHS head coach Josephine Alstott said. “The girls really wanted to keep the season going and I thought we played one of are cleaner matches of the year.

“We served well, made crisp passes and finished balls when we had the chance.”

Senior Alyxis Mericle had a match-high eight kills, while classmate Aleah Anderson added six. Alyson Nieland added five and Kierstin Clark four with 20 assists.

“In practice, we’ve been working on being just a little quicker with our attack,” Alstott said. “I felt like we did that (Monday night). We know that this time of season, you have to be playing your best.”

The Gaels had a quick start, scoring four of the first five points of the match. They followed with runs of three, four and five to take control, as freshman Lauren Gibb had back-to-back aces.

Gibb finished the night with seven ace serves as St. Edmond recorded 19 as a squad. Mya McClain and Clark each had four, with Emma Alstott adding three.

“Things were just clicking,” Alstott said. “It’s crazy how once you get a little momentum going, it really can take over a match. We’ve had that happen against us this year, so it was good to reverse things in our favor.

“These girls have worked so hard and put in so much time, and I think it’s really showing out on the floor.”

After the Rockets (1-17) claimed a 7-4 lead in the second set, St. Edmond went on another run, scoring seven in a row and 11 of 12 to go up 15-8. That run eventually turned into a 19-2 rally.

In the second set, the Gaels had nine aces against just three serving errors.

St. Edmond put the match away in the third with a 12-2 run as Gibb recorded three consecutive aces at one point.

Mericle, playing for the final time at home, had six kills and two blocks in the final set. McClain and Nieland, also playing their last home match, had two each.

“These seniors just continue to be such incredible role models and student-athletes,” Alstott said. “For my first year as a head coach, I could not ask for a better group of leaders.”

McClain also had 14 digs and Alstott 12 to lead the Gaels.

Awaiting the winner between St. Edmond and Newell-Fonda in the regional semifinals will be either Bishop Garrigan or North Iowa. The Golden Bears swept West Bend-Mallard and North Iowa did the same to GTRA last night.

The bottom side of Region 4 also features ninth-ranked Dunkerton and No. 10 Janesville. The regional championship will take place Wednesday, Oct. 27 at a site to be determined.

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