There were things Alexandria could have done to put that match away earlier, but both also commented on the importance of finding a way to win that match last week for a young team.
“It was huge,” Byrne said. “Granted, we know we probably shouldn’t have been in that situation, but to show some grit and pull it out, that was just a huge win for us and those young players. It definitely gave us some momentum.”
It carried over into an easy win on Monday when the Cardinals swept a winless St. Cloud Tech team (0-3) to improve to 2-1 overall and in the Central Lakes Conference.
Alexandria’s Lexi Cole (left) and Maggie Anderson put up a block against St. Cloud Tech on Monday night. Anderson had a team-high 11 kills as the Cardinals beat the Tigers in three sets. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
“I think just staying up and not playing down to their level (was key),” Anderson said. “That helped us, and we had a lot of grit. In the last match, I think that we thought we could just beat Rocori in three sets. We played down a little bit to their level, and in this game we realized we need to play how we can play at our level.”
The Tigers had a lot of unforced errors throughout the match that helped Alexandria’s cause, but the Cardinals never really let Tech have a chance. They won 25-17 in the first two sets before jumping out to a 9-2 lead in the third and putting things away with a 25-14 win.
Alexandria’s Lilly Thul (left) and Maddi Buysse put up the block against St. Cloud Tech on Monday night. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
“They’re getting better with each match, and what we’re really working on is managing the ball and not just swinging away,” Byrne said of her team. “It’s having different shots and making sure every hitter has a game plan. We’re working on strategy with them so they can really execute different things throughout the course of the match.”
Anderson is the most experienced hitter on this team after playing a lot as a sophomore last season. She knows exactly what many of her younger teammates are going through as they get their feet wet at the varsity level.
“I was pretty timid and nervous last year,” Anderson said. “It took me almost the whole season to find my groove. I think this year, I’m more confident.”
Anderson had a team-high 11 kills to go with two aces. Freshman Maddi Buysse had six kills, junior Addie Boesel added four and sophomore Charlotte Lempka chipped in three.
Alexandria freshman Maddi Buysse gets her finger on a ball at the net from St. Cloud Tech’s Hailie Christiansen on Monday night. Buysse had six kills to help the Cardinals to the sweep of the Tigers. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)
The Cardinals leaned on Anderson at times on Monday night, but Byrne knows Alexandria needs to spread the ball around to be at its best against better teams.
“We’re working with everyone,” Byrne said. “We need to pass a little better to run our other hitters. The outside was getting a lot more balls tonight because of some of our passes. We need to work on our ball control so we can run our middles and right side. The more we can do that, the more balanced we are and it takes a little bit off of those outside hitters.”
Kiya Issendorf and Cora Larson again shared setting duties with 13 and 10 assists, respectively. Larson added a team-best nine digs, as well.
It all added up to a win that sends Alexandria back on the road this Thursday with a little more momentum when the Cardinals take on St. Cloud Apollo (1-2) at 7 p.m.
ALEXANDRIA 3, ST. CLOUD TECH 0
(25-17, 25-17, 25-14)
ALEXANDRIA – Maggie Anderson – 11 kills, 2 aces; Maddi Buysse – 6 kills; Addie Boesel – 4 kills, 2 blocks; Charlotte Lempka – 3 kills; Kiya Issendorf – 2 aces, 13 assists, 2 digs; Tessa McGrane – 3 aces, 5 digs; Lilly Thul – 2 blocks, 7 digs; Cora Larson – 10 assists, 9 digs; Lexi Cole – 6 digs