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Eagan remains unbeaten in five-set thriller against Stillwater

By Maddie DeBilzan, SportsEngine, 09/05/17, 10:00AM CDT


This back-and-forth heavyweight battle went to the Wildcats thanks to the play of McKenna Melville.

Eagan freshman Kennedi Orr applies her power game against Stillwater Tuesday night at Stillwater Area High School. The Wildcats defeated the Ponies in five sets . Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

When Eagan loses a point, you have to squint to see any sign of frustration coming from McKenna Melville. 

The Central Florida commit clenches her fists for about two seconds. Then she smiles at her teammates and offers a nod or a high-five before she flips her ponytail around. Eyes back on the net. Next play. 

Eagan defeated Stillwater in a five-match battle between Class 3A heavyweights Tuesday evening at Stillwater High School. The Wildcats (3-0), ranked No. 1 in the Class 3A coaches' poll, wrestled the No. 7-3A Ponies (3-2), winning every other set in the 3-2 victory. They commanded the deciding match, taking an early 7-1 lead. 

Eagan coach Kathy Gillen equates the fifth match to a sprint-start. “We just try to get out of the blocks quickly,” she said. 

And it’s a good thing they did. 

Stillwater came back from the six-point deficit and brushed up against Eagan’s perfect record, making the score 12-11. But the Wildcats maintained their lead and slipped through the Ponies’ grasp, winning the final match 15-12. 

Melville attributes her team’s win to the composure each athlete tries to uphold -- especially herself. Body language, she says, is half the battle. It can make or break a set. 

But she’s not naive: these matches were a bit too close for comfort. Composure only carries a team so far. 

“Honestly, we had a little bit of luck tonight,” she said. “We slacked off a few too many times.” 

Although Eagan brought home the 3-2 victory, Stillwater commanded the total number of points 109-107. 

Talk about too close for comfort. 

Ponies coach Robert Fisher is proud of the way his players stepped up. To name just one, junior libero Britta Borrman had a standout defensive game for the Ponies, pitching in 24 digs. 

First Report

Eagan pulled off its third consecutive win of the season in a 3-2 battle over Stillwater Tuesday evening at Stillwater High School. The Wildcats (3-0) regained their composure after teetering between losses every-other game with the Ponies (3-2). 

The Wildcats, who have made state tournament appearances four years in a row and won the past two, took charge in the fifth match, but not without a tug of war. In the deciding set, Eagan took an early lead to make the score 7-1 -- a lead they would never relinquish, despite Stillwater crawling back from its six-point deficit to level the score 12-11. 

Eagan senior and Central Florida commit McKenna Melville took the reigns, which led to the hard-earned Eagan win, according to head coach Kathy Gillen. She led quietly so her frustration wouldn’t bleed into her teammates’ performances. 

Though Stillwater lost in the books, the No. 7 ranked team in the Minnesota Coaches’ Poll commanded the total number of points 109-107. Libero Britta Borrman played a standout game with 24 digs. 

Eagan senior Anne Wong returns a serve against Stillwater Tuesday night at Stillwater Area High School. The Wildcats defeated the Ponies in five sets. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

The MN Volleyball Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only. 

Stillwater senior Rachel Houle goes low to keep the play alive against Eagan Tuesday night. The Ponies lost in five close sets to the Wildcats. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

Photo Gallery

Eagan senior McKenna Melville pumps her fist after Eagan won the first set against Stillwater Tuesday night at Stillwater Area High school. The Wildcats went on to win a five set thriller over the Ponies. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine

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