Volleyball teams in the Gopher Conference know they will have to play several top-ten ranked teams each season. But 'getting up' for your neighbors and friends for a match might be an even bigger save-the-date moment. NRHEG and Blooming Prairie played one of those matches Tuesday night.

The Panthers won in five sets, which has been common between the two in recent years. A season-series split also happens more years than not. NRHEG's 25-17, 16-25, 25-27, 25-18, 15-9 win gave them a split with the Awesome Blossoms, who had swept their win to victory in the season opener in early October.

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The Panthers had a tremendous night serving with 17 aces. Hallie Schultz delivered eight of them. Blooming Prairie had a great night blocking. Sierra Larson had nine and Megan Oswald seven.

However, the block of the night belonged to NRHEG's Anna Jacobson, who denied BP's Micalyn Trihus on a big spike in the third set that was rejected back to the floor on the Blooming Prairie side to a thunderous reaction from Jacobson's teammates and the Panther fans.

That third set featured numerous long, exciting rallies. At one point, Blooming Prairie's Bobbie Bruns made a front-row, diving dig and was hoisted back to her feet by a teammate while action continued around them. BP won the set with a late comeback and surviving one game-point.

NRHEG stormed out to a 15-3 lead in the fourth set. Blooming Prairie rallied several times but couldn't draw closer than eight points. The Panthers carried the momentum into the fifth set, starting out 4-0. BP got within 7-5 and 9-8, but the Panthers led the whole way for the 15-9 clincher.

To start the night, NRHEG came from behind to win the opening set 25-17. BP had a strong start in the second set to win 25-16.

Trihus led BP with 15 kills and added three blocks. Larson had eight kills in addition to her nine blocks. Macy Lembke had 24 assists. For NRHEG, Kendall Johnson had about 14 kills. Jacobson, Elli Baker, and Raquel Fischer each had between six and eight. (Panthers stats are unofficial.)

NRHEG (2-6) hosts Maple River Friday, November 6. BP (2-5) entertains Medford Thursday. The Tigers lost to Faribault BA on Monday.

Owatonna volleyball beat Rochester John Marshall Monday 3-sets-to-1, 25-10, 22-25, 25-20, 25-18. The Huskies rallied from a 16-9 deficit in the third set. Emily Hagen powered OHS with 13 kills. Lanie Schuster contributed nine. Owatonna plays at Mankato West on Saturday, November 7 at 1:15 pm with coverage scheduled for AM 1390 KRFO and the free app. The match was originally set for this Thursday, but West has been on a COVID pause over the last couple of weeks.

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