A gutsy move paid off in the end, as freshman Kirsten Hansen started in a new Warrior line-up that put up strong performances tonight in their season-opening triangular against solid Hoisington and Smoky Valley teams. Marion lost a hard-fought battle with Hoisington in their first match, but rallied off a weak second set to take the match from Smoky Valley in the third, going 1-1 in the triangular.
Marion looked a bit shaky at first, no doubt due to the majority of their young starting squad adjusting to new positions because of the late line-up changes. But they still put up a respectable showing in the first set against Hoisington, never allowing them a double-digit margin in their 19-25 defeat.
The Warriors settled down and found their rhythm in the second game, getting the early jump on Hoisington for a 10-5 lead thanks in part to kills and blocks from the Hall duo of senior Briana and sophomore Julia. But Hoisington came back to trade leads with Marion and draw away for a time before the Warriors rallied to tie the game up, 18-18. Hoisington again opened a margin, but back-to-back kills from Kaelyn Thierolf and Katey Ehrlich tied it at 21-21. Hoisington found the edge down the stretch, though, earning a narrow 22-25 victory to win the set and secure the match.
With a match under their belts, the Warriors again took an early lead against Smoky Valley with the triple threat of B. Hall and Thierolf hitting and J. Hall scoring with blocks at the net. Midway through the match Smoky Valley pulled itself together to tie the game and take a one-point lead twice, but Thierolf came through for Marion, taking the lead with a hit off a Viking’s hands and again, moments later, powering through a block at the net to score and regain the lead, making it 18-17. Smoky Valley tied it, 20-20, to spark three lead changes before a block from B. Hall made it 24-22. Thierolf scored on the block moments later for their first set win, 25-22.
Game two was a whole different story, as Smoky Valley brought a jump serve to the table that virtually shell-shocked the Warriors and gave the Vikings eight unanswered points to start off the second set. Soon Smoky Valley held a 12-1 lead. Thierolf made a couple kills to help Marion’s case, but the Vikings went off on another run, quickly extending the margin. Smoky Valley walked away with an easy 10-25 win.
But Marion wasn’t ready to turn out the lights just yet. With remarkable composure they walked back on the court for the final set and brought the battle to the Vikings. Both teams swapped ties and leads early, but a block from Thierolf gave Marion a 6-5 lead that they refused to give up the rest of the game. Thierolf and J. Hall were a scoring threat at the net, hitting and blocking left and right, with players coming off the bench to provide depth in a back three that solidified as the game went on. Thierolf drove home the ball off the Vikings’ hands to earn the 25-18 set win and seal the match victory for Marion.
The Warriors take that momentum into an extremely tough quad Thursday, where they will face off with Moundridge, Southeast of Saline and the defending state champion, Hilllsboro.