Volleyball: Wolverines sweep Albany, head to first section semifinal in four seasons

The Wadena-Deer Creek volleyball team swept Albany on Tuesday night, clinching a spot in the Section 6-2A semifinal for the first time in four years.

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Wadena-Deer Creek volleyball team celebrates a point in the Wolverines' sweep of Albany on Nov. 1, 2022 at WDC High School.
Jared Rubado / Wadena Pioneer Journal
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WADENA – The third-seeded Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines welcomed the sixth-seeded Albany Huskies to their home court Tuesday night for a section 6-2A quarterfinal showdown. The Wolverines were looking for their first semifinal berth since the 2019 season.

After an electric first-set win by the Wolverines, the two teams would battle it out to see who was worthy of moving on. The Wolverines defeated the Huskies in straight sets, 28-26, 25-17 and 25-17, to extend their season.

Madison Carsten began her stellar night, scoring the first point and sparking a WDC 11-0 run. After trading points, the score read 15-5 in favor of the Wolverines. However, Albany wasn’t going to go down that easy.

The Huskies rattled off six straight points to cut the deficit to 15-11. Both teams traded points until WDC led 24-19, but the Huskies didn’t go out quietly.

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Wadena-Deer Creek's Montana Carsten gets ready for a serve in the Wolverines' sweep of Albany on Nov. 1, 2022 at WDC High School.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

Albany clawed back to tie the game 24-24 before a failed block attempt gave the Wolverines a one-point lead. The Huskies tied the game again before WDC regained its one-point advantage on a kill from eighth-grader Payton Gravelle.


The Huskies tied the game yet again after a failed WDC serve. A block from Addyson Gravelle set up the Wolverines with their eighth set-point opportunity. WDC didn’t let the opportunity slip, winning the first set in extra points.

“That was huge,” Wadena-Deer Creek volleyball head coach Sue Volkmann said. “To win a game like that, it puts the losing team back on their heels and gives us momentum going into the second set. It’s always good to win the first one.”

The second started with two straight points by WDC. Leading 8-4, the Wolverines fired off six consecutive points to extend their lead to 14-4.

Albany battled to cut WDC’s lead to 18-13, but it was the closest the Huskies would get to tying the set. The Wolverines extended their lead to 21-13. After a few back-and forth-points, WDC finally put the Huskies away with a serve error and side out by Albany to give WDC a 2-0 lead.

With their semifinal berth just 25 points away, the Wolverines started the third set with the first point and a 3-0 lead.

Albany went on a run themselves, rattling off four-straight points to give it its first lead of the match at 4-3. The Wolverines made sure it didn’t last long, reclaiming the lead with a 3-0 run with a kill from Carsten.

Albany fought back to tie the game at 7-7, but WDC regained the lead again with a four-point run. The Wolverines ended the third set outscoring the Huskies 14-10 to grab their second sweep of their 2022 playoffs and their first semifinal berth in four seasons.

“It was a complete team effort,” Volkmann said. “We had so many people attacking the net. Our passer and serve receivers set us up. It was a great game of hustle, and we really wanted to win.”


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Wadena-Deer Creek's Jada Dykhoff gets ready for a serve in the Wolverines' sweep of Albany on Nov. 1, 2022 at WDC High School.
Nick Leonardelli / Wadena Pioneer Journal

“It is great to hear,” Volkmann said on hearing this is WDC’s first semifinal appearance since 2019. “These kids work so hard. We have great team chemistry, which is the reason we are where we are at. The longer we can play, the better it is.”

Carsten was all over the court. She led the team in kills with 15, digs with 12 and aces with four. Carsten, Addyson Gravelle and Lola Pulver all finished the game with one block. Addyson Gravelle also led the team in set assists with 34.

“We will enjoy this one tonight and then get ready for Pequot Lakes,” Volkmann said. “We will talk about Pequot and some of the things we need to work on. We won’t improve a lot between now and Thursday, so we’ll get our mindset focused on Pequot Lakes.”

WDC takes on second-seeded Pequot Lakes on Nov. 3 at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School. The first serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.


(28-26, 25-17, 25-17)

Kills - Maddie Carsten-15, Emily Lepinski-10, Lola Pulver-7, Payton Gravelle-6

Digs - Maddie Carsten-12, Kayla Kircher-7, Addy Gravelle-5, Payton Gravelle-4, Jada Dykhoff-4, Montana Carsten-3, Jenna Dykhoff-1, Lola Pulver-1,

Aces - Madison Carsten-4, Payton Gravelle-3, Montana Carsten-2, Kayla Kircher-2

Blocks - Addy Gravelle-1, Maddie Carsten-1, Lola Pulver-1

Setting Assists - Addy Gravelle-34

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