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Wolves rally from 2-1 deficit to top Braves

Menahga's Hailey Heegard (left) spiked the ball as Walker-Hackensack-Akeley's Olivia Schultz (5) went up for a block during Tuesday night's match. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Despite dropping the last three matches, head coach Isaiah Hahn is pleased with the way the Menahga volleyball team is playing at this point of the season.

The Braves, who were coming off a close 3-0 loss to Frazee and another close 3-2 loss to Sebeka, held a 2-1 lead Tuesday night before Walker-Hackensack-Akeley rallied for a 22-25, 25-11, 21-25, 25-23, 15-10 victory at Menahga.

"That was a tough loss against a very good W-H-A team," said Hahn. "Overall I have been impressed with our team's play the last couple of games. We have been playing with a lot of energy. Our team's ball control has been pretty good, but of course this will continue to be a focal point for our program as we get closer and closer to the section tournament."

W-H-A jumped out to leads of 5-1 and 9-2 in Set 1 before the Braves rallied. Kills by Hailey Heegard, Olivia Yliniemi, Cierra Ahlf and a tip by Marjama cut the gap to 12-7 before Ahlf served three points, Leah Schwartz had two kills, Marjamaa had a kill and Yliniemi had a kill to make it 18-15. Yliniemi then served two aces and six points as a kill and block by Tara Hendrickson helped give Menahga a 21-18 advantage. An ace serve by Ahlf, a kill by Schwartz and a tip by Hendrickson helped the Braves close out the opening set.

A tip by Hendrickson and kills by Schwartz, Heegard and Ahlf sparked Menahga to an 8-8 tie in Set 2 before Brianna Raddatz served 11 straight points to give W-H-A a 20-8 advantage. After a tip by Marjamaa ended that run, the Wolves went on a 5-2 run to even the match.

The Braves regained the momentum in Set 3 as three kills by Ahlf, a kill and tip by Schwartz and a kill by Yliniemi provided a 21-14 advantage. An ace serve by Ahlf and kill by Hendrickson closed out that set.

Megan Benjamin served five straight points to start Set 4 as the Wolves jumped out to a 19-9 advantage. Six kills by Schwartz and kills by Yliniemi and Ahlf cut the gap to 24-23 before W-H-A closed out that set.

Two kills by Schwartz, an ace serve by Marjamaa and a kill by Hendrickson gave Menahga a 6-3 lead to open Set 5. The Wolves responded as Shelby Berg served an ace and four points as W-H-A led 9-7. A kill by Yliniemi made it 9-8 before Schultz served an ace to give W-H-A a 13-8 edge. Hendrickson and Schwartz had kills before a kill by Katie Benjamin ended the match.

Menahga finished 47 kills with Schwartz leading the way with 20. Yliniemi, Ahlf and Hendrickson had eight kills apiece. Marjamaa set up 38 of those. Yliniemi served three aces and Ahlf had two service aces.

On defense, Aimee Lake had 24 digs while Schwartz (20), Yliniemi (13) and Annie Lake (11) also hit double digits in digs.

The loss dropped Menahga's record to 9-11 on the season while the Wolves improved to 14-6 with their third consecutive victory.

"The area we need to improve the most as we get closer to the section tournament is our serving percentage. Against W-H-A, we had 13 serving errors. That is too many. It is tough to win matches, especially against good teams, when you have double digits in serving errors," said Hahn. "Besides that, I like where we are at. Our blocking has improved, our attacking percentage has improved and if we can just keep up the great ball control, the sky is the limit as we finish out the regular season and head into the section tournament."

Menahga statistics

Kills: Schwartz 20, Yliniemi 8, Ahlf 8, Hendrickson 8, Heegard 2, Marjamaa 1.

Ace serves: Yliniemi 3, Ahlf 2, Marjamaa 1.

Set assists: Marjamaa 38, An. Lake 1, Heegard 1.

Ace blocks: Yliniemi 1, Hendrickson 1.

Digs: Ai. Lake 24, Schwartz 20, Marjamaa 13, An. Lake 11, Ahlf 8, Yliniemi 7, Pietila 2.

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