Bailey Olson, right, of United South Central spikes the ball Tuesday as Kassi Hardies, middle, of Albert Lea and Sydney Rehnelt look to get a block. Albert Lea rallied from a two-game deficit to beat United South Central 3-2. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Bailey Olson, left, of United South Central spikes the ball Tuesday as Kassi Hardies, middle, of Albert Lea and Sydney Rehnelt look to get a block. Albert Lea rallied from a two-game deficit to beat United South Central 3-2. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Gallery: Tigers refuse to panic

Published 10:06pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Albert Lea rallies past USC with 3 straight wins in non-conference action

WELLS — Despite facing a 2-0 deficit, the Albert Lea volleyball team did not have its confidence shaken.

With their backs against the wall, the Tigers reeled off three straight wins on Tuesday to defeat United South Central 3-2.

“After the first two games, we knew what we needed to do to come back,” Albert Lea senior setter Bryn Woodside said. “We had some awesome passes, and I got the ball out to the hitters and they really slammed it.”

Woodside racked up a game-high 48 assists, and her teammate, Annie Ladwig, earned a game-high 18 kills. Woodside said she has chemistry with Ladwig, because they’ve been playing together since they were sophomores.

“We always know where we are on the court, and it’s a lot of fun to play with her,” Woodside said. “She’s a great hitter.”

Sydney Rehnelt gave the Tigers a one-two punch on the front line by adding 17 kills.

“Sydney had the best game of her life,” Albert Lea head coach Lisa Deyak said. “All of the girls played well, but Sydney just had an amazing match. She was on, and I was really excited for her.”

USC was led by Anissa Janzig and Bailey Olson at the net. Janzig led the Rebels with 17 kills, and the duo combined for six blocks.

The match was reminiscent of Albert Lea’s 3-2 home win over New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva on August 29, except the comeback at USC was even more drastic.

Against NRHEG, the Panthers and Tigers split Games 1 and 2, and Albert Lea faced elimination after Game 3. At USC, Albert Lea faced elimination after Game 2.

“Sometimes we don’t play our game right off the bat,” Deyak said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’m glad we came back and controlled the match from Game 3 on.”

In Game 1, Albert Lea led 20-13, but Janzig and Olson powered USC on a 12-3 run to win 25-23.

The Tigers led 14-13 in Game 2 on a kill by Julia Deyak, but the Rebels rallied again for a 25-21 win.

USC led Game 3 21-19. Four more points, and the match would have been over. However, three kills by Ladwig tied the game a 22, and Albert Lea stayed alive with a 25-23 win.

After winning Game 4 25-20, Albert Lea built a 12-7 lead and won 15-9 to complete the rally.

“We played well tonight, but we just let it slip away,” USC head coach Rick Hotzler said.

Albert Lea improves to 6-3 overall. After starting the season 3-0, the Tigers were swept by Owatonna and went 2-2 at the Hayfield Tournament on Saturday.

Next, the Tigers play at Faribault (3-6) at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.

USC fell to 2-4-1 overall. The Rebels started 2-1 with wins over Mankato Loyola and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, but USC went 0-2-1 at the Mankato West Tournament Saturday.

Next, the Rebels play at Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (6-2) at 7:15 p.m. Thursday.