Morgan Kockelman reacted with excitement as her Vikings held on to beat RTR.

Vikings win shootout in Tyler

When you think about an old-fashioned “shootout,” you think about, “The Shootout at the OK Corral.”
The modern day version came Thursday night when both Minneota and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton squared off in Tyler for a “shootout” of grandiose proportions.
Wearing the six-guns for Minneota was Lydia Sussner — and for RTR was Tina Haroldson.
When the dust cleared, Minneota had a 3-0 win; 25-19; 25-20 and 25-22 and each set was a battle between the two “kill artists”.
Sussner had 21 kills and blocked seven attempts for points. Three other times she had blocks to keep the volley alive.
But Haroldson countered with 20 kills — missing on her swings just twice the entire game. She also had 24 digs.
“Lydia had one of her best games as well hitting and blocking. She was able to get to a lot of balls and put up a nice block,” said Coach Hayley Fruin.
“Overall, it was a very competitive match,” said Coach Fruin.
OK, they were the big guns.
But someone has to get the ball to the hitters and that someone was Morgan Kockelman. She was good on 38 of 41 attempted sets.
“I thought Morgan Kockelman played one of her best games. She did a great job finding her hitters,” said Coach Fruin.
 Kockelman not only got the ball to her hitters, but knocked down a pair of kills herself and was in on four blocks to keep volleys alive.
Coach Fruin added, “Her and the middle hitters were connecting on every ball — something we have needed to improve,” said the coach.
Natalee Rolbiecki came in and knocked down 10 kills and Lizzy Gillingham recorded seven from her corner position.
“Lizzy really stood out in the front row as well, she took a lot of nice, smart swings. Natalee continues to get better and is really becoming a threat,”  said Coach Fruin.
Also, “Sydney and Jenny put up nice blocks and took smart swings as well,” the coach added.
But for the most part, RTR contested each and every play with setter Mya Christensen getting the ball to Haroldson and Lexi Wendland as the two knocked down 34 kills between them.
In the middle of the second game, one of Sussner’s kills landed squarely on the face of Kylea Baartman. She didn’t play again, but Rylie Hess came in and the Knights didn’t miss a beat.
In the first game alone, Kockelman found Sussner her main target. Many of her sets were short sets, allowing Sussner to smash the ball at the net six times. Sussner and Kockelman also paired up to become steady blockers at the net as well.
In fact, 10 blocks for points is a high number and Minneota’s blocking has improved enough to allow that amount against the Knights.
Ellie Pesch, who was 13 of 13 at the serving line, aced her final serve for a 25-19 win in the first game.
Minneota had to come from behind at 7-4 in the second game, but tied it at nine, then again at 14 before pulling head. Rolbiecki came in for some important hits at the net Sydney Larson had a nice block to secure the 25-20 win.
Haroldson took over at the net in the final game and for awhile it looked like the Knights were going to get a win. They led 22-18. But Sussner had a pair of kills and block and Krog knocked down a kill to give the Vikings some space and the eventual 25-22 win.
“Our back row was very consistent. It was the best we have serve received. We didn’t have communication errors — everyone was going for the ball. We need to build off of this and continue to improve.” Sisters Abby and Morgan Hennen combined for 10 digs apiece in the back court.

Minneota        25    25    25
Russell-Tyler-Ruthon    19    20    22
SERVING: (No., good, aces) Minneota-Abby Hennen 13-13-0; Ellie Pesch 13-13-1; Morgan Kockelman 14-13-0; RTR-Haroldson 2 aces.
KILLS: Minneota: Lydia Sussner 21, Natalee Rolbiecki 10; Lizzy Gillingham 7; RTR-Haroldson 18; Lexi Wendland 16.
SET ASSISTS: Minneota-Minneota-Kockelman 38; RTR-Mya Christensen 35.
DIGS: Minneota-Abby Hennen and Morgan Hennen 10 each; Gillingham 5; RTR-Kalleigh Carr 33; Haroldson 24..
BLOCKS: Minneota-Sussner 7, Sydney Larson, Rolbiecki 1 each; RTR-Rylie Hess 3, Madison Witte 2.

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