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Gallery: USC eliminates Alden-Conger

Bailey Olson, left, and Tara Bauman of United South Central block the ball after Alden-Conger's Brittany Waters tried to set the ball over the net. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Bailey Olson, left, and Tara Bauman of United South Central block the ball after Alden-Conger’s Brittany Waters tried to set it over the net. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

WELLS — Despite having the wind taken out of its sails at the end of Game 1, the United South Central volleyball team bounced back to win three straight games and eliminate Alden-Conger Thursday in the first round of the Section 2A tournament.

The Rebels built a 9-5 lead in Game 1 with strong play by Anissa Janzig at the net. However, Alden-Conger’s Brittany Waters caught fire with multiple kills to knot the score at 10 and spur the Knights to a 13-1 run that helped them build a lead they would not relinquish. Waters, a senior, led all hitters with 28 kills in the match.

“Brittany is a phenomenal player,” Alden-Conger head coach Jolene Bute said. “She’s a great kid, and it’s going to be hard to replace her next year.”

USC responded by taking an 8-0 lead in Game 2, and that advantage ballooned to 10 points. Late in the game, Alden-Conger cut its deficit to three points, but the Rebels prevailed on a missed serve by the Knights.

We knew we had to pick ourselves up,” Janzig said. “We couldn’t let one loss dictate how we played for the entire night. We had to let that one go.”

USC built another double-digit lead in Game 3, and won on a kill by No. 3, Tara Bauman, to take its first lead in the match, 2-1.

“Lately, we’ve been coming together,” Bauman said. “It’s been really fun. We’ve had some struggles, but we’ve always learned to come back together.”

Alden-Conger took the lead out of the gates for the first time in the match in Game 4. Waters served to start the game, and the Knights took control. The scoreboard read 12-5 after a kill by Waters. However, USC rallied to tie the game at 21 and later take its first lead, 23-22. The Rebels scored the final two points of the game to win the match.

“It was a heck of a match,” said USC head coach Rick Hotzler. “We wanted to move on. That’s what we were hoping for.”

The two teams met during the regular season at Alden on Oct. 1, and USC won 3-1.

Alden-Conger, the No. 5-seed in the section finished the season 9-13-2 overall. USC, the No. 4-seed improved to 14-2-1.

Next, the Rebels play Martin County West in the quarterfinals at St. James at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Oct. 24 post.