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Rotating up to the front row when Eden Prairie needed her most, Sarah Wilhite didn't let the Eagles down.
The 6-1 outside hitter finished out the third and fourth sets of Saturday's girls' volleyball Section 6 final against Hopkins and helped the Eagles advance to the state tournament with a 3-1 (25-16, 19-25, 27-25, 25-23) victory at Benilde-St. Margaret's in the title game.
After losing the second set and trailing 20-17 in third, Eden Prairie rallied behind five consecutive Wilhite points for a 10-5 run that won the set. Again, in the fourth set, Hopkins held a 20-17 lead, but filtering to the front just in time was Wilhite. She scored four of the Eagles' final five points and finished with 33 kills, six digs and three blocks.
"It's no secret that we go to her in any crucial moment," Eden Prairie coach Chad Becker said. "And she seems to finish it."
The teams split two regular-season matches. Hopkins won the most recent meeting on Oct. 9, but the Royals were well aware that there was no stopping Wilhite, just adjusting to her. For a set and a half, they did so, but with Eden Prairie sophomore setter Elizabeth Mohr finding her rhythm once again, the Eagles followed suit. Filling in for the injured starter, Mohr dished out 43 assists and had seven digs.
"Some people do panic, but our team was able to bounce back," Wilhite said. "We were ready for this."
Jamie Cairncross contributed 28 digs for Eden Prairie. Hopkins' Nora Reed finished with 16 kills, five blocks, three aces, and Samantha Selinger-Swenson had 51 assists and 17 digs.