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Win-E Mac's Korbyn Ross tried to block as Fillmore Central's Leah Scheevel spiked the ball in Friday's Class 1A semifinal match at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Photo: Bruce Bisping * email@example.com
Fillmore Central not only enjoyed a wealth of talent and the No. 1 seed in its Class 1A semifinal match against Win-E-Mac Friday, it had history on its side.
It has been a dozen years since a Class 1A championship match was played without a team from Section 1. Guess which section the Falcons represent?
They extended the tradition with a 25-13, 27-25, 22-25, 27-25 victory over the Patriots.
“Playing in that section just makes us a stronger team,” senior outside hitter Taylor Case said. She led Fillmore Central (35-2) with 22 kills while her fellow senior and front-court mate Tori Peterson added 18.
Seeing the potential of this team and knowing how difficult it is to come out of Section 1, coach Denise Case made a point of setting up a tougher-than-normal schedule. It paid off during the semifinals as the Falcons repeatedly fought back rally attempts by Win-E-Mac (31-4).
“I deliberately set it up that way,” Case said. “These girls have played together since they were in fifth grade. I knew how good they could be. If we hadn’t played that tough schedule, we wouldn’t have gotten this far.”
Southwest Christian's Mackenzie Horkey (right) spiked the ball past Minneota defenders in Friday's Class 1A semifinal match at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Photo: Marlin Levison * firstname.lastname@example.org
It took five sets in a back-and-forth match but Southwest Christian, one year after making its first-ever state tournament appearance, earned a return trip Friday with a Class 1A semifinal victory over Minneota.
It took some trust and consistency to pull it off at the Xcel Energy Center.
The No. 3 seed Stars (30-5) claimed the first set at 25-16, before the seconded-seed Vikings (30-40 roared back for a 25-18 second set victory. The Stars took set three at 25-18, but Minneota again made a comeback with another 25-18 win.
In the decisive fifth and final set, Southwest Christian prevailed at 15-10.
“That’s something that we’ve been working with all year, as far as finishing games out, trusting our systems and trusting each other on the court,” Stars coach Greg Sayuk said. “That was pretty much my speech every time out.
Senior outside hitter Mackenzie Horkey was key in the last set. She said solid passing and setting helped her score.
“We just got off at a strong start,” Horkey said. “We just pushed through it and stayed consistent through the whole thing.”
Her coach said his 2013 squad mirrors last year’s group, just with more experience. “So it feels like I’m taking the same group of 15 kids back to the state championship match,’’ Sayuk said, “and that’s very comforting.”