MARSHALL - It was an all-out battle down to the last point in a matchup between No. 2 seed Central Minnesota Christian Bluejays and No. 3 seed Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights in the section semifinals played Tuesday at Southwest Minnesota State.
In the back-and-forth match, the Bluejays were able to sneak by the Knights in a 25-18, 25-27, 25-15, 21-25, 15-13 victory.
The Bluejays proved they came to play by picking up a 25-18 win in the opening set. The Knights shook off their nerves in Set 2, rallying to a 27-25 advantage to even the match 1-1.
Photo by Jeff Arenz
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton’s Justine Possail (5) and Destinee Strand attempt to block a Central Minnesota Christian hit during a Class A Section 3 North Division Tournament semifinal match Tuesday at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Dana Schaefer led the RTR attack, totaling 15 kills for the Knights, who received 45 assists from Destinee Strand.
Coming into the third set, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton failed to get the ball to the floor, allowing the Bluejays to take 6-0 lead. Janel Wichern blocked an incoming attack to break the Knights scoring slump.
Wichern ended the night with three blocks. Both teams racked up multiple offensive errors, slowing the set's momentum.
Central Minnesota Christian pulled away taking the set 25-15 as the Knights struggled to control the Bluejays offense, which was led by Lexi Scott.
"We were trying to stop Lexi," Russell-Tyler-Ruthton head coach T.J. Williams said. "We knew she was their big gun, coming in."
The Knights came-out swinging in the fourth set, taking an early 6-4 lead and maintained a comfortable two-point lead through the first 13 points.
RTR put together a four-point run with big plays by Wichern and Justine Possail raising the lead 17-11. Wichern and Possail earned 13 and 11 kills on the night, respectively.
The Bluejays made up the deficit with five unanswered points to bring the match to 17-16 in favor of RTR. The Knights found their momentum and stopped the Bluejays in a 25-21 set victory.
"Our momentum helped," said Williams. "It's hard when you give up a 7-1 run, but they played hard and got the momentum back."
Set 5 came down to a true head-to-head battle with both teams fighting to stay alive in the section tournament.
The Bluejays took the early 8-2 lead behind left handed-hitter Erin Orred.
"She killed us tonight," said Williams. "It's hard to stop a lefty because of the angle they can come in at."
The Knights refused to give up, using a four-point and a five-point run to tie the match at 13-all.
Despite its last-minute drive, the Knights were unable to clinch the match, falling to CMCS 15-13.
"They played really well considering we dug ourselves in a whole numerous times," said Williams. "But to come back from it, I was quite proud of them."
Central Minnesota Christian advances to take on No. 1 seed Minneota in the section tournamen's North Division title match Thursday at Southwest Minnesota State.
RTR finished its season with a record of 21-9.
RTR18 27 15 25 13
CMC25 25 25 21 15
Serving(good-att-aces): Janel Wichern 19-21-4, Destinee Strand 19-21-3, Dana Schaefer 15-16-2.
Kills: Schaefer 15, Wichern 13, Justine Possail 11.
Digs: Schaefer 11, Possail 11, Wichern 9.
Set Assists: Strand 45.
Blocks: Wichern 3, Possail 1.