By Shane Frederick
Free Press Staff Writer
Shayna Kinniry thought of the football team and what those players went through on Saturday night.
“It’s been an emotional week,” the Waterville-Elysian-Morristown senior volleyball player said after her team’s 3-2 win over Tri-City United in the Section 2AA, South Subsection semifinals Tuesday. “The football game was hard, but if they could play on the same day that Diggy died, we could do it tonight, too.”
Diggy was WEM student and athlete Brady Hruska, who died in a boating accident on Lake Elysian while duck hunting Saturday morning and, like the football game, the volleyball match at the Mankato East gym — a 20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 15-8 Buccaneers victory — was a tribute to him.
Fans wore neon-lime green shirts and outfits and players from all four teams participating in the semifinals had the color in their hair in one form or another — some with headbands, others with ribbons. Students held up signs that said, “Do it for Diggy.”
“It was great to see the community come together with that support,” WEM coach Crystal Lamont said. “It’s more than just volleyball.”
The emotions of the evening, though, carried over to the court, where the third-seeded Bucs and the second-seeded Titans traded momentum swings of long scoring runs and comeback rallies.
After dropping the first set, WEM opened up an 8-2 lead in the second and led 24-16 before Tri-City United reeled off five straight points. A big spike by Haley Domonoske ended the rally and gave the Bucs the game.
A closely contested third set ended with one of Kinniry’s 16 kills.
The Titans’ win in the fourth started with a 9-1 lead, but they had to hold off the hard-charging Bucs for a three-point edge.
“It’s been a roller coaster three days, and it’s been a roller coaster all night,” Lamont said. “I don’t know how the girls did it. They were amazing all night.”
Lamont said her team’s late run in the fourth set carried over to the fifth, and the Bucs started the deciding set on a 6-0 run with some tough serving by Nicole Dahle. Kinniry had four kills in the set, and her serving put WEM ahead 12-5.
“It was hard, but we pushed through and had fun doing it,” Kinniry said. “We couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Brittany Buesgens had 12 kills and 13 digs for the winners. Domonoske finished with eight kills, and Kalley Kendall had seven kills and five blocks.
For Tri-City United, Amber Brokl finished with 20 kills and 32 digs. Dani Angileno had nine kills, and Claire McCrady and Coley Selly each had eight kills. Selly also had 35 digs and 25 assists.
WEM (23-7) plays top-seeded Le Sueur-Henderson at 7:45 p.m. Thursday at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.