The Class 2A championship was a classic matchup of contrasting styles: Marshall, with its tournament experience and multiple state titles on one side, with athletic and energetic Caledonia, making its first-ever tournament trip, on the other.
Marshall survived Caledonia's initial blitz, then relied on its volleyball savvy to win the final three sets for a 17-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-17 victory for its second consecutive state championship and third in the past four years.
"They stuck it to us in that first set but good," Marshall coach Dan Westby said. "But give our kids credit. They found a way to win that second set and after that, we were pretty good."
Caledonia's first tournament appearance was a long time coming and the Warriors made the most of it. Led by 6-foot middle hitters Emma Lange and Maria Fruechte, Caledonia, which had lost in the Section 1 finals five years in a row before finally winning this year, pounded Marshall in the early going. Fruechte, an explosive leaper, had seven kills in the first set en route to a team-high 24.
But to Marshall, a team with a state-record 24 tournament appearances -- including 12 in a row -- nothing comes as a surprise.
"Getting beat as soundly as we did in that first set, having that experience really helps," Westby said.
Marshall's ball-control style trumped Caledonia's aggressiveness in the final three sets. The Warriors repeatedly attacked, but Marshall was always there to turn down the volume when things got too boisterous.
"They pass and dig really well," Caledonia coach Scott Koepke said. "A lot of the balls we had really good swings at, they popped up."
Kenzie Beekman, the Tigers' main offensive option, started finding her spots in the second set, finishing with 22 kills. Setter Sydney Griffin had 14 kills and 26 set assists and Angela Tauer added 11 kills.