Aggressive approach helps MV sweep Sargent Central

TOWER CITY — When putting a team together, it never hurts to have options.
And so far this season, the Maple Valley High School volleyball team seems like it has plenty when it comes to its offense.
In the Raiders' 25-17, 25-18, 25-10 home win over Sargent Central Tuesday night, the girls kept the visiting Cadets off guard all night with a dizzying array of hitters that kept the pressure up, even as the lineup rotated through.
"It's nice to have the options because then it throws the defense off a little bit," Maple Valley coach Jessica Theurer said. "They don't really know where it's going to come at."
With experienced junior setter Abby Tinjum putting the ball up, the Raiders took advantage of tips, hits, and spikes from seniors Cassie Pautz and Katelyn Pueppke, sophomores Katie Pautz and Megan Kasowski, and freshman Rylee Nudell to put it away.
It was attack that had hardly any leniency. When one of the hitters was moved to the back row, the next would come up and fill her role.
Theurer said the goal Tuesday was to be aggressive in their hitting, which the Raiders did.
Maple Valley jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first game, largely behind a two blocks and two kills by Nudell, who got help from the Pautzes, and finished up 25-17.
Though the second set started close and the Cadets kept within three points most of the way, Nudell got the serve following a kill to make it 16-12, then led her team in scoring five more points to help put the set away.
The final set was similar to the first, with the Raiders getting a 10-4 lead early and allowing only ten points in the entire game.
"The girls stuck with the game plan and followed through and we ended up being successful," Theurer said.
The Raiders are off to a 3-1 start only a year after finishing eighth in the District 2 standings, which Theurer credited to having many of the same players as last year.
"All the girls that play have been returning players and they've really worked on it in the offseason and matured, and you can't ask any more than that," she said.
She said the focus has been attacking and playing an intense game to avoid letting the opponent dictate the pace.
Instead, such as in Tuesday's win, the Raiders are hoping to set the style of play for the game.
Theurer is expecting a challenge Thursday, when the Raiders play at Oak Grove Lutheran in Fargo, a team expected to be one of the top in the district.
Right now, though, she's pleased with her girls.
"They're starting to come together as a team. They're doing really well," she said. "They're focusing on the fundamentals and we're focusing on attacking the ball and following and finishing the play."