Just three seasons ago, Redwood Valley failed to win a Big South West Conference match. Now, as the regular season nears its finish, the Cardinals have yet to lose one.
Now, Redwood Valley (16-2-1, 6-0) faces a big test on Tuesday at Marshall, a team that has advanced to the state tournament 15 of the past 17 seasons. Taya Lindahl, in her first season as the Cardinals' coach, admitted that previous Redwood Valley teams have been intimidated by the Tigers but that this year's junior-laden lineup is displaying a growing confidence.
"The girls have started to put that [feeling of intimidation] behind them," Lindahl said. "They are starting to see that they can compete with the better teams."
Junior Sydney Sommers, in her fourth varsity season, is the Cardinals' go-to player on the outside, Lindahl said. Senior middle hitter Hayley Garman, sophomore right-side hitter Kate Ahrens and senior right-side hitter Leah Irlbeck give Sommers plenty of help. Junior setter Aubree Hicks passed the 1,000-career-assists mark in mid-September.
Stacked with seniors, Marshall, meanwhile, remains one of the state's best. The No. 4-2A Tigers (17-4, 5-0) are led by setter Logan Sherman, defensive specialist Mia Schnaible, middle hitter Paige Andries and outside hitter Jordyn Hilgemann.