Ashley Henry and Karissa Laabs

Columbus' Ashley Henry, left, blocks a fast set by Horicon's Karissa Laabs during the first set of the match at the Columbus triangular.

COLUMBUS – The Columbus, Horicon and Marshall prep girls volleyball teams were all in the same boat Thursday at the Columbus Triangular.

It was the first game of the season where it counts.

And did Columbus show they were ready to start the season off strong. First, the Cardinals defeated Marshall 25-19, 18-25, 25-20. Then they ended the night with a three-game sweep (25-21, 25-13, 25-18) over the Marshladies.

“It’s a good opportunity to clean up some things as a team because it’s still early on in the season,” Juedes said. “I’m just happy with that because the other two teams are probably doing the same thing here. They’re in the same boat as we are.

“I’m glad we were able to figure it out a little bit quicker.”

Marshall gave both Columbus and Horicon some trouble.

The Marshladies started the night off against Marshall and won 25-15, 20-25, 27-25. But it was the third set where both teams would go on small runs and the other would tie it up. The set would have ties at 16, 19, 20, 24 and at 25.

“I think we were down 22-18 and we just gritted it out point by point,” Horicon head coach Alix Kruel said. “We just did not give up on each other. We believe in ourselves. That’s the outcome that can happen pretty easily against a very good team.”

Juedes knew it was going to be tough because Columbus had Marshall up next.

Things started off evenly in the first two sets. In the first set it was tight at 8-8 before Columbus went on a short run to go up 13-11 before Marshall tied it back up at 14-14 and again at 16-16. After that Columbus clung to a 2-point lead late before ending the match on a 7-1 run to win 25-19. In the second set, Columbus had the lead at 8-7 before losing it, never gaining it back and losing 25-18.

“They have some great strength at the net,” Juedes said. “Marshall has some big hitters at the net. You can see the momentum shift because we feel like we have a couple too, but they weren’t always up against each other. It was a momentum shift when her two bigger hitters would be up. The momentum would change. Trying to find the even divide in between rotations is important.

“They’re a pretty strong team. They were regional champions in the Capitol South last year. That’s a big bonus for us too.”

The confidence seemed to go with Columbus after defeating Marshall 25-20 in the third set. Mostly because Ashley Henry and Kayla Hein were dominant up front. Hein had eight kills and eight blocks while Henry had six kills and nine blocks against Marshall.

Columbus won the first set with Horicon, but it was a tight affair between the two teams.

“When things go back and forth like that you tend to play it a little more safe because you’re afraid to give up that extra point,” Juedes said. “You’re afraid to change the momentum that way. They have to focus on being more confident in their abilities that they have to be more aggressive.”

Columbus was definitely more aggressive in the second set; at one point they were up 18-12 before going on a 7-1 run to end the set. Then they shot out to an 18-12 lead again before Horicon tried to come back. But they only got to within five points at 21-16.

“It’s just gritting it out and not hanging their heads and really pushing through because that’s a really good game to get a lot of competition against us,” Kuel said of her team learning something from the sweep. “Things will go our way if we keep working hard and hanging with teams like that.”

Lauren Kirchberg and Hannah Fox were definitely good at what they were doing, tallying up 34 digs and 14 digs, respectively. Henry had 10 kills and 8.5 blocks while Emma Dugan had five kills and Hein had four kills and two blocks.

“There were so many great things I could shout out to today,” Juedes said. “But if I were to give accolades anywhere I would certainly have to tip my hat to Ashley Henry, Kayla Hein and Lauren Kirchberg in the back as the libero. Hannah Fox is a freshman and she went one and two with digs tonight.

“She did a fantastic job.”

The way Columbus played culminated in a sweep of the Marshladies.

Maybe something they were expecting?

“No, not at all,” Juedes said. “After watching the Marshall and Horicon game I thought for sure it was going to be very evenly matched tonight. … I think the girls relaxed a little bit. They got that first real game under their belts. They were able to sit back and relax a little bit and play more of their game.”

HORICON 2, MARSHALL 1

Horicon 25 20 27

Marshall 15 25 25

Horicon leaders: Kills – Jordan Adamson 8. Assists – Karissa Laabs 7. Digs – Caitlin Pieper 10. Blocks – Jordan Adamson 3. Aces – Angie Laabs 2.

Marshall leaders: Kills – Bailey Neuberger 9. Assists – Megan Murphy 26. Digs – Aubrie Kappers 6. Blocks – Nicole Eggers 3. Aces – Kiana Hellenbrand 2.

COLUMBUS 2, MARSHALL 1

Marshall 19 25 20

Columbus 25 18 25

Marshall leaders: Kills – Bailey Neuberger 8. Assists – Kiana Hellenbrand22. Digs – Kate Jablonski 4. Blocks – Nicole Eggers 2. Aces – Kiana Hellenbrand 5.

Columbus leaders: Kills – Kayla Hein 8, Ashley Henry 6. Assists – Emma Dugan 14, Macie Murphy 11. Digs – Lauren Kirchberg 32, Hannah Fox 17. Blocks – Kayla Hein 8, Ashley Henry 9. Aces – Mikayla Armatoski 5.

COLUMBUS 3, HORICON 0

Horicon 21 13 18

Columbus 25 25 25

Horicon leaders: Kills – Jordan Adamson 6. Assists – Karissa Laabs 6. Digs – Lauren Miller 8. Blocks – none. Aces – Cassie Laabs 2.

Columbus leaders: Kills – Ashley Henry 10, Emma Dugan 5, Kayla Hein. Assists – Emma Dugan 10, Macie Murphy 12. Digs – Lauren Kirchberg 34, Hannah Fox 14. Blocks – Ashley Henry 8.5, Kayla Hein 2. Aces – Hannah Fox 2.

Follow Mark on Twitter @mmcmull2.

Mark McMullen is currently a sports reporter for the Daily Citizen. He can be reached by email at mmcmullen@wiscnews.com or by phone at 920-356-6754. Can also follow him on Twitter at @mmcmull2.