Gallery: Mayo sweeps Albert Lea

Published 9:34 pm Thursday, September 11, 2014

Camryn Keyeski of Albert Lea spikes the ball Thursday at home against Rochester Mayo. The Tigers lost 3-0. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Camryn Keyeski of Albert Lea spikes the ball Thursday at home against Rochester Mayo. The Tigers lost 3-0. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Against a team that won the consolation bracket of the Class AAA state tournament last year, the Albert Lea volleyball team didn’t back down from the opening serve.

“I was really pleased with how we played in the first set,” said Albert Lea coach Lisa Deyak. “They played well, and we just need to maintain that. If we can maintain that against a team like (Rochester) Mayo, we have a shot.”

Albert Lea led halfway through Game 1 and was tied at eight in Game 2, but Mayo was able to pull away at the end of each game Thursday to sweep the Tigers 3-0.

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The Tigers (1-6 overall, 0-3 Big Nine Conference) had a tough schedule this week. On Tuesday, they lost 3-2 at Mankato West — the defending conference champs — and then hosted the Spartans, who finished second in the conference. The Scarlets and Spartans had a combined record of 53-8 last year.

“We’ve got the two hardest teams in the conference out to the way right away, and it helps us to know what we need to work on,” said Albert Lea middle hitter Taylor Willis.

In Game 1, Mayo started with a 2-0 lead, but Albert Lea tied the game at three on a kill by Willis and went on to build an 8-5 advantage. After the Tigers took a 13-11 lead on an ace serve by Hope Landsman, the Spartans went on an 11-3 run to take a 22-16 lead. Albert Lea fought back to cut its deficit to three points, but Mayo scored the last two points of the game to win 25-20.

Game 2 was back-and-forth half of the game. It was tied at 10, but the Spartans ended the game on a 15-3 run to win 25-13.

Mayo took a 13-3 lead in Game 3, and Albert Lea was unable to climb back. The Spartans won 25-13 to complete the sweep.

With the graduation of Albert Lea’s starting setter and top hitter last year, the team has been shuffling its lineup to find its best combination.

“This is actually the fourth lineup we’ve used this season,” said coach Deyak. “There’s been a lot of change going on, and all the girls have been learning their positions. Sometimes you wish you had two months to practice before the season started, but that’s not the way it works.”

Julia Deyak, one of the Tigers’ top outside hitters last season has been filling the void at the setter position, while Camryn Keyeski switched from libero to playing a mix of the back row and outside hitter.

Landsman led the Tigers at the net with 11 kills. Deyak had 21 assists and five digs. Keyeski had a 96 percent receive rate to go with a team-high 10 digs.

Next, Albert Lea will host Northfield (4-7 overall, 2-1 Big Nine Conference) at 7:15 p.m. next Tuesday. The Raiders are coming off of a 3-1 home win Tuesday against Mankato West.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: Sept. 11 post.