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Trailing 24-22 in the first set, Belle Plaine calmly prepared for what could have been set point. The poised approach gave the Tigers life for another point, and another, until they held a 26-25 advantage over Thief River Falls.

With a chance to finish the late comeback, Mariena Hayden slammed down one of her game-high 16 kills to give Belle Plaine the edge and the momentum. From there it turned into a straight set 27-25, 25-17, 25-17 victory in the first round of. the Class 2A girls’ volleyball state tournament on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.

“I think that really helped us to get the momentum,” Belle Plaine senior Kirsten Johnson said about the early rally. “[Thief River Falls] came out really well, we we’re surprised. But we picked it up really fast.”

After the impressive first-set victory, the Tigers had no problem finishing the rest of the way. Johnson finished out the third set serving the final seven points, led off by a service ace and capped by Hayden’s final kill of the night.

Haley Fogarty and Jordan Going each added 10 kills for the Tigers. Fogarty led the team with 16 digs. Thief River Falls was led by Shelby Norlin’s 25 assists and 11 digs.

JASON GONZALEZ

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