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Bethlehem Academy will get a chance to break its trend of only winning state championships in odd numbered years.

The Cardinals cruised through the Class 1A girls’ volleyball semifinals, topping No. 5-seed Win-E-Mac 25-9, 25-11, 25-11 on Friday afternoon at Xcel Energy Center. The straight sets victory keeps Bethlehem Academy a perfect 18-0 in the playoffs and places the No. 1 seed in its second straight state championship and 10th of the last 11 title games.

A 17-1 first set run by the Cardinals set the tone for a very one-sided match. Win-E-Mac could do little right; even its quality shots weren’t good enough at times. Trailing 20-5 in the opener, the Patriots’ Korbyn Ross was blocked by Lauren Mathews at the net and it ricocheted back into her face. Ross shook it off to finish with six kills and 11 digs, while Shelby Kaster also had six kills and 12 digs for Win-E-Mac.

“It really gave us the momentum and put pressure them on them. It put them in a tight spot,” Mathews said about the early surge after contributing eight kills, four blocks, three digs. “They were pretty scrappy, but we were smarter. We knew where to put the ball [Friday].”

Maddie Borwege had a game-high 15 kills for Bethlehem Academy. Jessie Mathews had 11 kills, 11 digs. And Payton Nutter contributed 32 assists, seven digs.

JASON GONZALEZ

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