Trojans fall prey to Hawks

New Prague’s Marissa Ekness sends the ball over the net during the Trojans’ win over Shakopee Wednesday, Oct. 23. (Chuck Kajer Photo)

The New Prague Trojans volleyball team saw its season end Friday, Oct. 25, with a three-set sweep at the hands of the Chaska Hawks in the Section 2AAA quarterfinals.

            New Prague ended its season with a 16-14 record.

            Earlier in the week the Trojans took a convincing win over Shakopee in the first round of the section playoffs.

            The section playoffs continued Tuesday, Oct. 29, with Chaska defeating Buffalo and Delano topping Waconia. Chaska and Delano will play at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, in Chanhassen for the Section 2AAA championship.


Trojans 3, Sabers 0

            Less than three weeks after dropping a close, five-set match to Shakopee, the Trojans came through with their most impressive outing of the season Wednesday, Oct. 23, in sweeping Shakopee in the first round of the Section 2AAA tournament in New Prague.

            The Trojans, seeded No. 8, anticipated a tight match with the No. 9-seed Sabers, but New Prague came out strong and took an early lead that they would never relinquish in the first set. The Trojans opened up an 11-5 lead over the Sabers, who tried to come back, cutting the lead to three at 13-10. But kills by Marissa Ekness and Alex Jendersee along with a block by Sydney Foss got the Trojans going again at 17-11.

            Shakopee again closed to within three at 18-15, but Melanie Clausen came in to serve and never gave the serve back to Shakopee. She opened with an ace as the Trojans ran off seven straight to take the win.

            Shakopee opened the second set with a run of their own, taking a 7-3 lead, but the Trojans recovered and took charge, winning the second game 25-20.

            The third set started out tight, but with the Trojans leading 8-7, Foss and Marissa Ekness had a pair of kills, and Foss had an ace to put the Trojans up 11-7. Shakopee tied the score at 19-19, but the Trojans got the serve back and kept the pressure on, winning 25-22.

            "I was very impressed with our play," said Trojan Coach Angela Andersen. "The entire team came out ready and focused. We really controlled the match from start to finish.  After losing to Shakopee earlier in the season, it was great to see the girls play so well and come out on top this time."

            She said the Trojans really raised their defensive game in both blocking and digging. 

            "It was a great way for the girls to play their final home match of the season. It was a great overall team effort. "

            Ekness and Foss led the Trojans with 12 and 10 kills respectively. Jendersee had five, Clausen three and Anna Eaton two.

            Hughes had 28 assists and handled 96 sets with only one error. Defensively, Jendersee and Eaton each had three blocks, with Foss and Clausen getting two each and Hughes and Ekness one each. Foss had 16 digs, Ekness 10, Hannah Erickson and Hughes eight each and Clausen and Jendersee five each.

            Hughes had two ace serves, while Foss, Ekness and Clausen had one each.


Hawks 3, Trojans 0

            After having taken a set from the powerful Hawks a week earlier, the Trojans were hopeful of pulling off an upset against No. 2-ranked Chaska in Friday’s quarterfinal match.

            Chaska thought otherwise.

            "They were ready for us, and we struggled right off the bat getting into a rhythm," Andersen said. "Chaska runs a very fast game and we were taken somewhat by surprise."

            She said the Trojans settled down and played better as the match went on. "We did a lot of great things. Our serve reception was probably one of our best matches of the season, but we could not match Chaska's speed or overall play, especially their fast offense."

            Andersen said the team, led by the four seniors - Foss, Ekness, Hughes and Clausen - never game up. 

            "We struggled at times, but the girls kept fighting to the end. I am proud of this team.  They are an incredible group of young women that I have watched not only this season but over the course of the past few years really grow as players and as people.  It is tough to see the season come to a close."

            Offensively the Trojans had seven kills from Ekness, five from Foss and four from Jendersee. Clausen and Eaton each added two.

            Hughes had 20 assists for the Trojans, and Foss had two aces, while Ekness and Clausen had one each.

            Defensively, Clausen and Jendersee each had two blocks, while Erickson had a career-high 16 digs.                                 One other highlight for the Trojans during the match was when Hughes recorded her 2,000th career assist, the first Trojan to reach that mark. Hughes set the school record for assists earlier this season.