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In its nine previous trips to the state tournament, Faribault’s Bethlehem Academy has not lost before the championship match. The Cardinals continued that streak Thursday, defeating Martin County West 25-13, 25-12, 25-7 in the Class 1A quarterfinals, a run of 19 consecutive pre-finals victories.

The Cardinals are the tournament’s No. 1 seed despite a 24-7 record. Those seven losses, to teams like Lakeville North, Marshall, Wayzata and Eagan, are by design, Boelter said.

“We make sure our team is ready when they get here,” coach Franz Boelter said. “Look at our schedule. We play the best teams in the state so that when our girls get here, they’re not going to see anything they haven’t seen before.”

Bethlehem Academy was led by sophomore outside hitter Payton Schultz, who had 25 digs, and senior middle hitter Maddie Borwege, who provided the offense with 16 kills.

JIM PAULSEN

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