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CLASS 1A REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL | ST. ANSGAR 3, TURKEY VALLEY 1

Front row, long fourth set service powers St. Ansgar to 12th straight win

When St. Ansgar needed a spark on Wednesday night, Adrianna Kruse took matters into her own hands.

One block and three kills later, the senior hitter started a run that didn't end for five-plus minutes.

The Saints took advantage of a less than stellar serve receive by Turkey Valley during their 13-0 run in the fourth set to seize control and triumph 25-15, 25-14, 19-25, 25-13 in a Class 1A regional quarterfinal at St. Ansgar High School.

"I feel everybody can trust I have that spark," Kruse said. "With that block, it set us up for the rest of it."

For the second time in nearly a month, St. Ansgar will face Top of Iowa East Conference foe Nashua-Plainfield in Nashua on Monday night in a regional semifinal.

The regular season meeting was won by the Saints (20-7) in four sets.

"We're not done yet," setter Emma Hicken said. "I'm super jacked. I'm ready to make a statement."

Tyler Johnson saw this match against Turkey Valley felt similar to the match on Sept. 30 against the Huskies.

St. Ansgar's head coach felt like his front row was dominant in the first two sets. It rallied from an early 5-1 hole with with a 10-2 run to take control. It jumped out to an 8-1 lead in the second set and never trailed.

Jaci Woods had eight of her team-high 14 kills in the first two sets. The Saints had a team hitting efficiency of .197.

"We got up, we hit hard and we did what needed to be done," Woods said. "You want to come out strong and play your best right from the get-go."

The Trojans (17-16) used a couple momentum swings to extend it to a fourth set.

Behind some digs that kept rallies alive, plus a double hit call against the Saints and a free ball that ended up in Turkey Valley's favor, it scored the final six points to win the set.

It was just the third time during the winning streak St. Ansgar dropped a set.

"They did a much better job defensively and put the pressure on us," Johnson said. "We had a hard time getting the pass up and we (didn't) establish the middle in the third game."

Behind Kruse's stretch on the service of Haley Peterson, the Saints never trailed after taking a 7-6 lead and cruised to the finish line for a screaming celebration.

Kruse finished with 10 kills and three blocks while Hicken and Aspen Falk each distributed over 15 assists. Libero Kennedy Schwiesow paced the back row with 18 digs and Woods chipped in 13.

"We went in knowing their serve receive was going to be a little different," Kruse said. "They weren't able to control anything; they were not confident at all."

Now, St. Ansgar gets a chance for a second straight trip to the regional finals. Its group is aiming for an extended stay on the court past next week and into November.

"We want to keep going," Falk said. "Our ultimate goal is to keep winning. We all realize that is something we can do."

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at zachary.martin@globegazette.com and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.

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