Albert Lea battles in 3-1 loss

Published 4:03 am Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Albert Lea volleyball faced Owatonna, the No. 9-ranked team in Class AAA, Tuesday night and came away with a 3-1 loss, but that’s better than any other Big Nine school has done this season against the Huskies.

Owatonna hadn’t dropped a game against a Big Nine opponent until Tuesday and while the Huskies (11-6, 5-0) still defeated the Tigers 25-4, 25-11, 23-25, 25-5, it’s a positive for Albert Lea (1-11-1, 0-4) to be able to hold that distinction.

“I think that’s a big, big deal for us,” Tigers head coach Lisa Deyak said. “We hardly scored any points in the first two games, and to come out and win game three — that’s huge for us.”

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Owatonna remained undefeated in the Big Nine and has only one loss this season from a non-metro team.

“The girls knew coming in that Owatonna is the absolutely the team to beat in our section,” Deyak said. “They are hands down the strongest team we’ll see all year. They’ve got a very good shot to make it to state this year.

The lone game victory was also the first for Albert Lea against a Big Nine opponent this season and the Tigers did it against a cast of very strong Huskie hitters.

“They’ve got lots of good hitters and they’ve got one of the best hitters in the state,” Deyak said. “They have many hitters and they’re able to put the ball around and that’s how you get a good offense going.”

Albert Lea still struggled to find its offense, but when it did it worked effectively.

“When we can use our offense and start hitting the ball, we do fine,” Deyak said. “There’s just been too many times where we get a decent dig or a decent pass and we don’t utilize it. If you’re going to score points against a team like Owatonna you have to hit the ball hard at them.”

Kristine Kelly, Sarah Heijerman and Nichelle Klatt all tied for the team lead in kills with two. Heijerman led the team in digs with five and tied for the lead in assists with four.

“She’s been playing really well,” Deyak said.

Bethany Sekora gave the Tigers a boost at the net with her blocking ability and Deyak was pleased with her improved play.

Albert Lea faces travels to face Faribault Thursday and will not have a home match until Oct. 9 against Century.