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Farmington controls net, clinches conference title

Farmington controls net, clinches conference title

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BONNE TERRE – Jade Roth and her Farmington volleyball teammates formed an often impenetrable wall against a struggling North County offense on Tuesday night.

The junior middle hitter repeatedly deflected incoming spikes to the floor while totaling 15 blocks, and also drilled 11 kills as the Knights clinched their first MAAA Large-School title in three years.

Jelena Gray provided a team-high 13 kills plus 12 digs, and Emma Gerstner added seven kills, five blocks and nine digs from the middle opposite Roth in a 25-21, 25-17, 25-14 victory.

Farmington (20-5-1, 5-0) established healthy leads in all three games with steady energy, whereas North County (19-6-2, 2-3) encountered difficulty passing and setting its hitters in rhythm.

Alyssa Wilson made 22 assists plus three kills, and fellow setter Jordan Anderson delivered 19 assists and six digs as the Knights locked down a virtual No. 2 seed for the MAAA Tournament.

Sparked by accurate serve receptions, Farmington threw the Lady Raiders a surprise by setting usual left-side threat Grace Duncan and Roth toward the right side to begin the first and third games.

Both plays resulted in direct kills, and North County was unable to counter the versatility of Farmington up front.

Roth produced seven blocks in the opening game alone, and the Knights jumped ahead 18-11 when Gerstner sent another hit back before landing the ensuing kill off a free ball.

Senior Tyler Conkright helped her team draw closer with a back-row kill and second-ball score off a dig by Leyna Stillman at 24-21. Roth answered with an angled laser that caught the sideline.

Gray sprinkled in five early kills to provide balance, and Kaylee Gerwitz was perfect on three swings in game one while chipping in five for the match.

North County seemed to regroup early in game two as powerful middle Kamryn Winch collected a series of kills for an early 6-3 lead that was later restored at 10-7.

But a hitting error enabled Roth to rotate in, and Anderson moved back to serve 11 consecutive points in a massive shift as the Lady Raiders could not escape a shaky rotation.

No timeouts were expended to quell the momentum as Duncan, Roth and Wilson recorded multiple kills while Gerstner handled the defensive duties behind them for a sudden 18-10 advantage.

North County senior Emma Gaugel tallied four of her seven kills in the opening stanza, but was shut out with hardly any opportunities to attack during the pivotal second.

Aces from Winch and Conkright helped reduce the difference to 20-16. Farmington secured a two-game cushion, however, when Duncan stopped a hard spike and Wilson back-set on target to Gerstner during the next rally.

Gerstner added the clinching point on a stuff-block, then was at the service line for a dominant 10-0 streak in game three that saw Roth take command again with three solo rejections and three kills.

An exchange of sliding digs from Gray and Gaugel preceded a Roth stuff at 18-10, and Gerwitz slammed her last kill four points later as Gray kept another ball from touching the surface.

Two kills by sophomore outside hitter Haley Minkel helped North County resist three match points, but the inevitable conclusion soon arrived with Roth whistling another smash from the left side.

Duncan finished with six and eight digs for the Knights, who made only two service errors and dropped just two sets over five conference matches.

Winch ended with eight kills and two blocks while Conkright posted five kills, nine digs and three aces for the Lady Raiders, who survived an emotional five-set battle with Lesterville one night earlier.

Gaugel had seven kills with six digs, and Addy Layton contributed three kills behind four from Minkel. Braylee Montgomery made 14 assists and Brenna Jenkins dished out nine more.

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