By Jeff Arenz
MARSHALL - The Minneota Vikings secured their fifth straight MSHSL Class A Volleyball State Tournament appearance after defeating the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers in four sets Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University's R/A Ficility.
Photo by Jeff Arenz
The Minneota Vikings celebrate with the Class A Section 3 Tournament trophy after defeating the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers in the championship match Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University’s R/A Facility.
Minneota won its fifth consecutive MSHSL Section 3 Tournament championship with a 25-18, 21-25, 25-18, 25-22 decision against TMB.
For the Vikings, Saturday's match was a little tougher than the first meeting they had with the Panthers during the Camden Conference season. Minneota defeated TMB 25-12, 25-22, 25-12 on Oct. 8 at home.
"I know that TMB is a scrappy team and I know they wanted to win this match just as badly as we did," Vikings outside hitter Shelby Corbin said. "I expected TMB to play the way they did. Their serves were amazing and that is what really kept us on our toes."
Vikings middle hitter Taylor Reiss agreed.
"I expected TMB to play with everything they had. If they win, they go to state. If they don't win, they go home," Reiss said. "It was frightening to see how intense they were playing. But we just had to come together, as a team, and play together."
Both teams served the ball well. The Panthers made 83 of 93 serves with three aces (two from Kassidy Przymus and one from Sammie Gervais), while the Vikings were successful on 88 of 95 serves and dropped in 10 aces (three from Reiss; two apiece from Corbin, Payton Boerboom and Molly Hennen; and one from Megan Larson).
Reiss ended up with a match-high 22 kills, including a trio of kills that produced three of the final six points of the match.
"I think we had a lot of momentum when we kept getting points. When you have that momentum, it's good," Reiss said. "Our passers did a good job of getting the ball up to (setter Megan Larson) and she did a great job of putting the ball in place. Then, all we had to do was put the ball away."
"When your team is on that kind of roll, you want to keep that momentum going and it just pushes you to do more than you expect," said Corbin, who, along with Larson, had eight kills.
Molly Hennen generated 10 kills for Minneota.
TMB's offense was balanced with Jessie Nelson leading the way with 12 kills. She was followed by Sydney Lanoue (11), Sammie Gervais (10) and Kassidy Przymus (10).
"Our game plan was to stick with Minneota and to try to do whatever we could do," Gervais, the Panthers' middle hitter, said. "We know that Minneota is a great team and we're rooting for them (at the state tournament). We knew we had to leave everything we had out on the court because, if this was going to be our last match of the season, we were not going to have any regrets. I think that we did that."
The Vikings won the first set, but not before the Panthers rallied to make it close at the end. Minneota built leads of 20-10 and 24-12 before TMB scored six straight points on kills from Gervais, Przymus, Sara Stoneberg, Nelson and a pair of errors by the Vikings.
Megan Larson ended the first set with a kill and a 1-0 set lead for Minneota.
The Panthers trailed 6-3 early-on during Set 2, but rallied to force ties at eight, 15, 17, 18 and 20. Nelson and Gervais hit key kills to hand TMB a 23-20 lead before posting the set victory.
"Minneota is a great defensive team, but I think we stepped up our intensity in the second set. We used our momentum to make a comeback after the first set," Gervais said.
In the third set, the Vikings led 20-18 despite Lanoue making seven of her 11 kills. A Reiss kill gave Minneota a three-point (21-18) lead before Larson hit a pair of kills, Hennen and Krista Maeyaert combined on a block and Panthers' hitting error sealed the set win.
TMB trailed the entire fourth set, but rallied within two points at 16-14 on an ace from Przymus and a pair of Minneota hitting errors. A pair of powerful kills from Corbin gave the Vikings a 21-18 edge before Reiss stepped up with more intensity at the end.
The silver lining for TMB is that no players will graduate from its squad that finished 21-13 this season.
"I'm looking forward to having everybody back on the team next season because we don't have one senior," Sammie Gervais said. "We're going to be working as hard as we can this summer to get better and to get a win next year at this time."
Minneota (29-3 overall), the No. 1-ranked team in the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association's final Class A poll, was seeded second Sunday for the state quarterfinals, which begin Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Fillmore Central (33-2) earned the No. 1 seed.
The Vikings will play Carlton (26-5) on Court 1 at 3 p.m. Thursday.
"We learned at state that are a lot of good teams there and we're going to have to play with everything we have," Reiss said. "Since we don't know the teams that we might face there, we will have to back to practice, get a little better, go to state and, hopefully, come back with a win."
At Southwest Minnesota State R/A Facility, Marshall
MSHSL CLASS A SECTION 3 TOURNAMENT
MINNEOTA 3, TRACY-MILROY-BALATON 1
SERVING (MADE-ATTEMPTED-ACES) - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 83-93-3 (Anna Peterson 12-12-0, Gabbie Gervais 10-10-0, Sara Stoneberg 10-10-0, Sammie Gervais 22-23-1, Sydney Lanoue 14-17-0. Kassidy Przymus 15-21-2); Minneota 88-95-10 (Taylor Reiss 21-21-3, Molly Hennen 18-18-2, Kalley Kloos 6-6-0, Megan Larson 13-14-1, Payton Boerboom 14-17-2, Shelby Corbin 13-15-2, Amber Engels 3-4-0).
KILLS (KILLS-ATTACKS-ERRORS) - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 53-138-14 (Jessie Nelson 12-26-4, Sydney Lanoue 11-26-2, Sammie Gervais 10-27-2, Kassidy Przymus 10-29-3, Sara Stoneberg 6-13-1, Gabbie Gervais 4-17-2); Minneota 48-112-13 (Taylor Reiss 22-36-2, Molly Hennen 10-38-4, Megan Larson 8-15-3, Shelby Corbin 8-19-3, Kelsey Maeyaert 0-4-1).
DIGS - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 35 (Anna Peterson 19, Gabbie Gervais 6, Sammie Gervais 6, Sydney Lanoue 2, Kassidy Przymus 1, Sara Stoneberg 1); Minneota 79 (Shelby Corbin 19, Megan Larson 19, Payton Boerboom 10, Taylor Reiss 9, Kelsey Maeyaert 6, Molly Hennen 6, Amber Engels 5, Krista Maeyaert 3, Kalley Kloos 2).
SET ASSISTS - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 44 (Gabbie Gervais 41, Anna Peterson 2, Jessie Nelson 1); Minneota 41 (Megan Larson 32, Kelsey Maeyaert 5, Shelby Corbin 2, Payton Boerboom 1, Taylor Reiss 1).
BLOCKS (ACES) - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 4 (Jessie Nelson 2, Gabbie Gervais 1, Kassidy Przymus 1); Minneota 6 (Krista Maeyaert 2, Megan Larson 2, Molly Hennen 1, Kelsey Maeyaert 1).
RECORD - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (21-13 overall); Minneota (29-3 overall).
NEXT MATCH - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (season complete); No. 2 seeded Minneota (plays unseeded Carlton (26-5) in MSHSL Class A State Tournament quarterfinal match at 3 p.m. Thursday on Court 1 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul).