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Braves tame Tigers to open section play

Leah Schwartz (10) celebrated with teammates Madi Marjamaa (16), Annie Lake (3) and Tara Hendickson (13) after Menahga's win over Rothsay in the first round of the Section 6A volleyball tournament Monday night. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Leah Schwartz's final home match was a memorable one as the senior outside hitter recorded 17 kills and 19 service points to spark the Menahga volleyball team past Rothsay in the first round of the Section 6A tournament Monday night.

Menahga, the No. 7 seed in the North, eliminated the No. 10-seeded Tigers with a 25-9, 25-18, 19-25, 25-21 victory.

Schwartz sparked the Braves to an 18-5 lead in Set 1 by following three kills with three ace serves during a run of 12 straight points. Madi Marjamaa also served an ace, Annie Lake had two kills and Cierra Ahlf had two kills to give Menahga the early lead. Kills by Olivia Yliniemi, Ahlf, Tara Hendrickson and Schwartz and a winning tip by Marjamaa closed out the opening set.

The Braves also didn't trail in Set 2 as an ace serve by Marjamaa, a kill by Schwartz, two kills apiece by Yliniemi and Ahlf, and a kill by Lake produced a 9-7 advantage. After Yliniemi scored off a dig, two kills by Schwartz and a kill by Lake made it 19-14. Kills by Ahlf and Lake, tips by Ahlf and Marjamaa, and a kill by Marjamaa closed out that set.

Rothsay forced a deciding set by jumping out to leads of 9-2, 13-4 and 16-6 in Set 3. Schwartz had four kills while Hendrickson and Yliniemi had kills for the Braves in the early going. A tip by Lake, kills by Ahlf and Schwartz, and a tip and block by Hendrickson kept Menahga within 24-19 before the Tigers extended the match.

Three kills by Schwartz and a kill by Yliniemi gave Menahga a 9-4 lead to open Set 4. Kills by Hendrickson and Schwartz helped the Braves maintain a 14-8 advantage before Rothsay cut the gap to 15-14. Kills by Schwartz, Lake and Yliniemi and an ace serve by Jessica Pietila gave Menahga a 21-17 edge before a kill by Ahlf and a winning tip and ace serve by Marjamaa closed out the match.

Ahlf finished with 10 kills and nine digs, Lake had seven kills and eight digs, and Marjamaa had 39 set assists and 16 digs. Schwartz also chipped in 13 digs to go along with four ace serves while Aimee Lake had 21 digs for the Braves, who played No. 2 Pelican Rapids Thursday night.

Menahga improved to 12-12 while Rothsay ended the season at 10-15.

"Except for a few communication errors in the back row, I thought our overall play was pretty good. I thought our team's ball control was really good. That was a major key for our team's success," said Menahga head coach Isaiah Hahn. "It's always good to get a playoff win. It was extra special to get that win at home for our fans and of course our two seniors (Schwartz and Hailey Heegard)."

Menahga statistics

Kills: Schwartz 17, Ahlf 10, An. Lake 7, Yliniemi 6, Marjamaa 4, Hendrickson 4.

Service points: Schwartz 19, Marjamaa 10, Yliniemi 7, Ahlf 7, Pietila 6, Ai. Lake 3.

Service aces: Schwartz 4, Marjamaa 3, Pietila 2.

Set assists: Marjamaa 39, Schwartz 1, Yliniemi 1, An. Lake 1.

Digs: Ai. Lake 21, Marjamaa 16, Schwartz 13, Ahlf 9, An. Lake 8, Yliniemi 3, Pietila 1, Hendrickson 1.

Ace blocks: Marjamaa 1, Hendrickson 1.

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