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Farmington volleyball plays eight matches in seven days

Junior outside hitter Gina Baertsch rises up for the spike against Eagan. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
Sophomore Sophie Hall receives a Wildcat serve during the Tigers' loss. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 2

The Farmington Tigers' volleyball team played eight matches in seven days stretching Sept. 14-20, battling through fatigue and injuries. They went 2-6 over that week with two of those losses coming to ranked opponents (Prior Lake and Eagan).

"We nicknamed this week going in 'the Gauntlet'," head coach Michael Woody said. "We haven't had a practice. Everything we've learned in the last eight matches we've not been able to work on. We've learned a lot and we've talked about them but we haven't worked on them, so those things will come faster."

Farmington lost a competitive match to Burnsville (16-25, 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 5-15) on Sept. 14 and then hosted a tournament Sept. 16. During the tournament, they lost to Faribault 17-25, 23-25 and St. Charles 25-21, 23-25, 11-15. However, they then finished the tournament with two straight wins against Red Wing and Bloomington Kennedy.

The Tigers beat Red Wing 25-12, 25-16. Junior hitting Gina Baertsch led the team with eight kills while junior Brenna Hesse had 15 digs and sophomore Brynn Timerson had 20 assists. Farmington then beat Bloomington Kennedy 25-19, 26-24. Baertsch once again led the team with seven kills and three aces, while Hesse had 15 digs and Timerson 17 assists.

On Sept. 20, the Tigers traveled to Rochester to play Rochester Mayo in a match that went very late and all five sets. Farmington lost 25-27, 21-25, 25-16, 25-19, 2-15.

"We played really well for the first four sets against Mayo," Woody said. "We made a couple mistakes late in game one and late in game two, but then really controlled games three and four. Every time Mayo would get a side out, we would turn around and get it right back and run a couple more points and kept building a solid lead in games three and four."

Farmington then had two straight matches against ranked opponents. First they hosted seventh-ranked in class 3A Prior Lake on Sept. 19, losing 17-25, 19-25, 20-25.

"We played better, we had slow starts in games one and two," Woody explained. But we scored 19 and 20 in the second and third games, we just couldn't quite get over the hump. We got within one and then they (Prior Lake) went on a run to finish both games."

Sophomore Jessica Sanders led the Tigers with 10 kills, Hesse had 23 digs and sophomore Charlie Nelson added 14 assists.

The next night they played the top team in class 3A, Eagan, and lost 13-25, 12-25, 15-25.

Sanders led Farmington kills against Eagan as well, this time with nine. Four Tigers had double-digit digs; Hesse had 20, Nelson 15, Hall 14 and Baertsch 10. Nelson also racked up 17 assists.

"These were two quality teams, they were preseason one and two that we played back-to-back after playing five matches in three days, and we pulled in the parking lot on Monday night at 10 to 11 p.m," Woody said. "We learned that this was the best that the state has to offer and they're going to get points doing their things, being big, playing in system, but we learned that we can do things against teams of that caliber too. That confidence, especially with the fatigue and being young, to have that confidence, to have the crowd into it, to be able to put balls away and go point-for-point against a team like this, builds a lot of confidence."

Farmington traveled to Rosemount on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and then hosts Shakopee on Thursday, Sept. 28.

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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