North Branch players were mobbed by their teammates after defeating Marshall in five sets for the Class 2A championship. Photo: ANTHONY SOUFFLE • firstname.lastname@example.org
After playing two five-set matches the past two days, North Branch was about out of gas. so the Vikings relied on sophomore Reagan Irons to step up.
Encouragement from teammates Cianna Selbitschka and Kylie Kline pushed Irons’ effort Saturday in the Class 2A championship match against Marshall.
“ ‘Reagan, we need you now to start hitting. Just hit it high and over, you’ll start getting points,’ ” Irons recalled them saying. “And once I noticed I could do that, I’m like, yeah, I got this.”
Her effort helped the No. 4-seeded Vikings (29-4) to their first volleyball state title in yet another five-set match, 22-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-17, 19-17. The Vikings finished as the runner-up a year ago.
It was the second comeback victory of the tournament for the Vikings, who trailed 2-0 in the quarterfinal.
No heartbreak loss to a powerhouse team this year. North Branch is now a state volleyball champion, winning another match in five sets.
The No. 4-seeded Vikings (29-4), who had prevailed in two five-set matches to get back to the title game, did it one more time to defeat Marshall 22-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-17, 19-17 to win the Class 2A state title Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
The Vikings once again rallied, trailing two sets to one. They also had a comeback victory in the quarterfinal, winning after losing the first two sets. They finish the season with a 4-1 record in five-set matches, 3-0 in the state tournament.
It marked a rematch of last year’s state semifinal between the two schools, with the Vikings winning 3-0 last time. The Tigers ended up with fourth place last year while North Branch finished as a runner-up to undefeated Maple Lake.
The No. 3-seeded Tigers (29-6) took second in their record-setting 28th state tournament appearance. They have six state titles and most recently placed second in 2014 with a five-set loss to Stewartville.
Check back later for more on the match.