Volleyball: Ponies finish 11th at SM-A tourney


ST. MICHAEL — It was an up-and-down weekend for the Stillwater volleyball team, which placed 11th at the 32-team St. Michael-Albertville tournament on Friday and Saturday.

The Ponies (15-5), who were competing without leading hitter Bri Horwath, defeated Nevis 25-20, 19-25, 15-11 in their final match to cap a 3-2 weekend. Nevis is ranked fifth in Class A.

“They have one of the better middles in the state and in the first game we had a game plan and the girls served really tough,” Stillwater coach Jamie Suapaia said. “The second game we got complacent on our serves and kept serving their libero and she was passing nails and got it to their middle and that’s why they won Game 2.”

Savannah Sprenger and Sophie Vick each totaled 15 kills against the Tigers while Brook Hunter added eight kills.

“We give Nevis a lot of credit, they’re a really good Class A team and they worked extremely hard,” Suapaia said. “We just needed to take care of the ball and make them predictable because we knew where they wanted to go and we needed to make sure we were in position to take away her shot.”

Susan Evans finished with 38 set assists while Maddie Brandon led a balanced effort defensively with 15 digs. Sprenger and Vick added 14 and 13 digs apiece.

“Susan had a pretty good match,” Suapaia said.

In previous matches, Stillwater defeated Rosemount 30-28, 25-21 before falling to Anoka 25-22, 25-20 in pool play on Friday. The Ponies defeated Minneapolis Southwest 25-17, 25-16 in their bracket on Saturday before losing to Owatonna 25-27, 25-19, 15-11.

The Ponies had won eight straight matches entering the tournament — winning 24 of 25 sets during that span.

“It was definitely an eye-opener for us,” Suapaia said. “I think missing Bri was definitely apparent, but from our first match to our last match I think we got more comfortable. We put Brooke on the right side and she played really well out there and it gave Susan a chance to spread the ball out a little bit more and figure out situational setting rather than just throwing it up to Bri. She did a good job of that and our middles just worked really hard again.”

Sprenger led the Ponies with 52 kills in the tournament while Hunter added 31. Brandon racked up 80 digs while Sprenger chipped in with 50 and Vick 40. Evans finished with 129 set assists, an average of more than 25 per match.

“The matches we won we were staying steady and consistent and the matches we lost we tended to play a little bit more timid and we looked like we were tight,” Suapaia said. “Our serving wasn’t quite on when we were struggling, but our passing throughout the whole weekend was pretty good. It was kind of an up-and-down weekend, but we made sure we had a strong push at the end and responded to what we had talked about and played really well against Nevis.

“Without our main offensive threat, we did some really good things. We beat some good teams this weekend without Bri and it shows we can put anyone in at any time and still do really well.”