Cupping his mouth and shouting toward his players, Eden Prairie coach Chad Becker yelled “one more point.” Though the Eagles still needed five points to close out their semifinal victory, leading 20-16, the coach knew the importance of a five-point lead late in a set with championship implications.
Sophomore setter Elizabeth Mohr responded by setting up senior outside hitter Sarah Wilhite for the much-desired point and Becker had his safety net against No. 2-seed Blaine on Friday morning at Xcel Energy Center. The edge held up in the third of a straight sets victory – 25-17, 25-19, 25-23 - to earn No. 3-seed Eden Prairie its second consecutive Class 3A championship berth and a chance to defend its 2011 title.
“Anytime you can push the lead to four, five points late, it gives you room for error late,” Becker said. “If we don’t build it to five, we’re probably still playing.
“All season long we set our goal to get to [the championship], but we never talked about what we wanted to do when we got there. I’m just happy our seniors to get the finish the season in the championship.”
Waiting for a chance to dethrone the Eagles is Lakeville North. The final is a rematch of the 2011 championship that went five sets. It will be played today at 5 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center.
Senior Maddie Reese knows what the Eagles want in the finale. Lakeville North beat Eden Prairie earlier this season 2-1 in a two-set victory format invitational, the same tournament in which the Eagles lost to Blaine. After redeeming the loss to the Bengals with the semifinal sweep Friday, the Eagles get another chance at the Panthers.
“If we would have had five sets…,” said Reese recapping the loss to Lakeville North. “We peak at the middle of games.”
Despite battling a bad hip that she dislocated prior to the section playoffs, Reese contributed six digs in the semifinal and played most of the game on the back row. Filling in at the setter position for Reese, Mohr handed out 40 assists and had five digs in her fifth game in the new role. Wilhite had 22 kills and 11 digs. Blaine was led by Lydia Dimke’s 21 assists, eight kills, nine digs, and Taylor Morgan’s 12 kills.