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Tiger volleyball battles injuries and tough schedule

Sophomore Jessica Sanders goes up for the spike earlier in the season against Eagan. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Junior Brenna Hesse receives the serve against the Wildcats. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The Farmington volleyball team finished its regular season with a 6-14-1 overall record and took eighth in the South Suburban Conference by going 1-8. The Tigers earned the eighth seed for section 1AAA playoffs and hosted no. 9-seed Owatonna on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Despite having to battle injuries and a very tough schedule, head coach Michael Woody said his team fought down the stretch.

"We finished most of the conference schedule playing the meat of our conference," he said. "Five of our last six matches were against top-10 ranked opponents, the top-5 SSC teams and we held our own, we did quite well. We had to battle through some injuries, for a while we'd lose one setter, get her back and lose the other one down the stretch. It looks like we're just getting back our second setter going into sections. We've changed up some things, trying to find the best solution for the puzzle and have a few things we think will work on Wednesday."

Throughout that stretch, Woody said it has been their defense that they have been able to hang their hat on.

"We've been playing phenomenal defense, that's been the one thing that's kept us in (matches) no matter who the opponent is," he explained. "Our defense has been very strong, we've frustrated a lot of good teams down the stretch."

However, it's the Tigers' offense that Woody said they are working on to compliment that defense.

"The other half of the coin is that we've had trouble putting balls away," he continued. "So we're not quite there, which is why we've kind of mixed up some things trying to keep our defense just as strong, but be a little stronger offensively. We're really working on that piece, because if we continue to play just as good of defense and can pick up the offense a little bit we're going to do just fine."

Woody said that the improvement he wants to see on offense comes down to basics.

"Just looking to get more kills and less errors in a nutshell," he said. "If we can flip-flop those things, have less unforced errors so we're not giving away as many points, and we can gain four or five more kills per set, that's an eight-to-10-point swing right there in each set, which would make the difference in almost every set we play in."

Looking ahead to the section match against Owatonna, Woody said both teams have improved since Farmington beat them in the first match of the season.

"I think both teams are better all over the board," he explained. "Our defense has improved, theirs has as well. Our blocking has gotten a lot better and it was poor early in the season so that's a positive. We had to rely on back-row attacks and other ways to get kills against them the first time around and we're hoping to have our offense be a little more balance in where we get our kills from (this time around)."

If the Tigers won Wednesday against Owatonna, they would then play Friday, Oct. 27, at top-seeded Lakeville North. Also in section 1AAA are no. 2-seed Lakeville South, third-seeded Northfield, fourth-seed Rochester Century, Faribault, Albert Lea, Rochester Mayo, Austin, Winona and Rochester John Marshall.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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