Belle Plaine players celebrated after defeated No. 2 seed Marshall in four sets. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • firstname.lastname@example.org
Leading two sets to one against a perennial tournament team, Belle Plaine was not going to let this one go to a fifth set. Even after getting down 9-1 in the fourth set.
“We all, in a huddle, just looked at each other and said, ‘let’s go,’” Belle Plaine senior middle hitter Lizzy Hilgers said. “We know we can do this and make this play, and then we all had confidence in each other again.”
Unseeded Belle Plaine got itself back in the set and completed the upset of second-seeded Marshall 25-15, 25-20, 21-25, 25-22 in a Class 2A quarterfinal Thursday at Xcel Energy Center.
In that fourth set, Belle Plaine (29-6) remained composed. Going into the match, Belle Plaine coach Rich Foust knew his team wasn’t going to out-hit or out-sneak Marshall.
Shaina Zinter (4) of Concordia Academy tried to hit through two Watertown-Mayer players. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • email@example.com
Watertown-Mayer was down two sets to none and trying to get back in the match with a 5-0 run to get within 13-10 of Concordia Academy-Roseville.
Then Beacons coach Kim Duis called a timeout to get her players to regroup, knowing they needed to shut down their opponent and not let it back in the game.
“We had some really good plays there to kind of get the momentum,” Duis said. “So I think it was a calming of the waters a little bit.”
Kaitylyn Prondzinski (15) of Stewartville came down after a hit against Annandale. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • firstname.lastname@example.org
The offense of top-seeded Stewartville in Class 2A packs some power, evidence by its 43 kills in their quarterfinal victory over Annandale, which had just 25 kills.
Junior setter Jaidyn Brower had 32 set assists, helping get the ball to senior outside hitters Kaitlyn Prodzinski with 12 kills and Lily Welch with 10 kills.
“I know they can take care of the ball, and they can put it away,” Brower said. “It’s really fun to play with them.”
Stewartville (28-4) rolled to a 25-17, 25-12, 25-21 victory over Annandale. While it’s the Tigers’ 24th state tournament trip, they haven’t reached Xcel Energy Center since 2015. Only Prodzinski played on that team.
“I feel more calm and collected than I did as an eighth-grader,” Prodzinski said.
Kylie Kline (1) of North Branch reached to dig out a ball in the match against Pequot Lakes. Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • email@example.com
Last year North Branch played three five-set matches in three days to win the Class 2A state tournament.
This year’s quarterfinal for the defending champion was a bit different. No. 3-seed North Branch swept Pequot Lakes 25-20, 25-11, 25-18. And it felt good for the Vikings coming off the court, coach Mike Selbitschka acknowledged.
“I think we’ll obviously have a little more legs in us, and a little more energy than we had going five games each set last year,” he said.
The Vikings (28-4) started the second set on a 13-0 run and didn’t let their opponent get closer than nine points during the set.