ST. PAUL Friday at the state tournament continued to plague the Minneota Vikings as they fell to the Southwest Christian Stars in straight sets 25-11, 25-19, 25-17 on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Vikings (31-4 overall) will vie for third place for the third consecutive year today at 11 a.m. against Win-E-Mac (28-7).
"It sure is familiar," Minneota head coach Steph Hennen said of the third-place game. "It's still a big deal. It's an opportunity to end the season with a win. It's an opportunity for the kids to come home with a medal. For the seniors to end their career with a win, that'd be a great way to send them off. For the rest of them, it leaves them hungry for next year.
Photo by Travis Andries
Minneota’s Shelby Corbin serves the ball during Friday’s Class A state volleyball tournament semifinal match against Southwest Christian at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
"Obviously it wasn't where we wanted to be, but there are many, many other teams in the state that don't have the opportunity to be in that match. We're happy to be in that match and we're happy to have our season ending in St. Paul and we hope we can get the win tomorrow."
The Vikings were unable to match the play of the Stars and were deprived a Class A championship showdown with nemesis Bethlehem Academy.
"They played good defense, we didn't match it," Hennen said. "They came ready to play, and we seemed like we were ready, but we just didn't show it. They caught a couple of breaks, and then, you know, you get a little frustrated and you do some things that you don't normally do. Then you start getting down on yourself and getting down on your teammates, and you can't do that in these big games."
SW Christian25 25 25
Minneota11 19 17
Ace Serves: SWC-Courtney Sheets, Mackenzie Horkey; M-Analisa Buysse.
Kills: SWC-Horkey 23, Abby Palkert 12, Abby Vandergalien 9, Katie Lubben 3, Erika Hiuzenga 2; M-Taylor Reiss 14, Molly Hennen 11, Hanna Prellwitz 2, Megan Larson.
Digs: SWC-Sheets 13, Rachel Carlin 10, Horkey 9; M-Hennen 11, Reiss 10, Larson 9.
Set Assists: SWC-Lubben 42; M-Larson 28.
Blocks (solo-assists): SWC-Vandergalien 0-1, Huizenga 0-1; M-Reiss 2-0, Prellwitz 0-1, Larson 0-1.
The Vikings trailed for almost the entire match and found themselves facing an early 10-3 deficit in the opening set against the Stars. Minneota used kills from Hanna Prellwitz, Molly Hennen and Megan Larson to cut into the Southwest Christian lead, but the Stars followed up the Vikings' run with a six-point swing of their own. Leading 16-6, the Stars outscored the Vikings 9-5 to take the first set, in which Minneota committed nine errors.
"Their hitters were quick," Hennen said. "I think we got caught out of position a couple of times and got sucked into the middle of the court. We had some holes in the block."
Minneota battled back from a 9-5 deficit in the second set to take the lead at 13-12. The Vikings combined three of Taylor Reiss' team-high 15 kills with a pair of Southwest Christian errors to extend their lead to 18-15, but the Stars were unwilling to concede the set.
Southwest Christian followed Reiss' sixth kill of the set with a 9-0 run to force set point. The Vikings picked up a block, but could gain no further ground as a kill from the Stars put the Vikings in a 2-0 hole. Minneota had 10 errors in the second set.
Set 3 was much of the same for the Vikings, as Southwest Christian took a 9-3 lead to start the match's final set. Molly Hennen knocked down a pair of kills following a service error by the Stars to cut the deficit down to three, but Minneota would get no closer. Hennen ended the match with nine kills, but the Vikings were unable to find another attacking option outside of Hennen and Reiss.
They did experiment with having setter Megan Larson take some swings, but it was mostly ineffective as the 5-foot-11 junior was unable to get much power behind any of her attempts.
"We've been working on it in practice," Steph Hennen said of using Larson as an attacker. "We were trying to save it for this weekend. Other things weren't working, so we thought we'd try it. It didn't work. We got beat by a better team today. They were solid; they played a nice match today."
The Stars followed Minneota's three-point run with a similar 3-0 run of their own, and then traded points with the Vikings before a final 3-0 run concluded the match.