MADISON – The first two sets of the SoDak 16 match showed why Ethan and Arlington were seeded eighth and ninth, respectively, but the balanced Rustlers dominated the third set to sweep the Cardinals and advance to next week’s Class B State Volleyball Tournament.
Ethan won by set scores of 25-21, 27-25 and 25-11 to improve to 27-6 while Arlington ended its season with a 23-8 mark.
The Rustlers built a 9-4 lead early in the first set before Arlington rallied to get within a point at 13-12 after a kill by Jayna Haufschild.
Ethan went back up by three, 19-16, forcing Cardinal head coach Anita Boeck to call a timeout.
The break helped out the No. 9 seed as the Rustlers promptly served into the net and then Arlington scored two more points to tie the set at 19-19.
The teams traded points to 21-21 before Karly Gustafson’s kill gave Ethan a 22-21 edge. Gustafson stepped back to the service line and served up an ace to make it 23-21, forcing another Cardinal timeout.
A kill by Jada Plastow gave the Rustlers set point at 24-21, and then, another Gustafson ace closed the set.
Set 2 mirrored the first set as neither team built more than a two-point lead through the first 20 points.
The Cardinals took a 12-10 lead following a kill by Jaida Devries and Ethan head coach Stephanie Plastow was quick to call a timeout.
Arlington pushed its advantage to 15-11 behind the serving of Jeryn Christensen before the Rustlers rallied as Gustafson, Cameryn Logan and Plastow tallied kills on the way to tying the set at 15-all.
It went back and forth all the way to 22-22 when Grace Parry notched a pair of service aces to give the Cards a 24-22 edge and set point.
But an Arlington hitting error kept the Rustlers alive and then Gustafson racked up another kill to make it 24-24.
An Ethan ball-handling error gave the Cardinals another set point, however, a serving error evened the score at 25-25.
Back-to-back Rustler kills – one by Gustafson and one by Plastow – gave Ethan a 27-25 Set 2 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Rustlers scored the first three points of the third set and quickly built an 8-2 lead before Haufschild’s kill ended an Ethan run.
But Arlington couldn’t put the ball away and the balanced Rustler attack kept grinding away – going up by as many as 12 points at 17-5 – before a hitting error gave the Cardinals a point and the serve.
Although Arlington battled until the end, Ethan put the set – and match – away on Gustafson’s 15th kill of the evening.
“Having a senior out (in Madysn Gilbertson), it was tough putting some young people in a lot of positions,” said Cardinal head coach Anita Boeck, who coached her final game for Arlington. “I thought they did a great job – we needed to step up in all positions today; it was pretty tough (because) we were playing a really good team.
“We put the ball a little too close in the front row for them and they were able to take it right back at us. Ethan has a great team and we knew that coming in; we knew we were going to have to be pretty tough tonight.”
Plastow and Logan chipped in with nine kills apiece as Gustafson added three blocks and a pair of aces.
Maddie Miiller collected 36 digs while Plastow contributed 29 and Jessica Bartscher tallied 37 set assists.
Hadley Carlson’s 10 kills, 23 digs and two service aces led Arlington’s effort as Haufschild finished with eight kills and a pair of blocks.
Marissa Baker put up 18 set assists while Christensen corralled 18 digs.