The second-seeded Hawley Nuggets eliminated top-seeded Barnesville in the Section 8AA volleyball semifinals on Thursday night in Pelican Rapids. Hawley moves on to a championship match with Thief River Falls on Saturday, while the Trojans season has come to an end with a final record of 23-6.
“Great atmosphere in Pelican tonight for the sub-section championship match up,” commented Barnesville Head Coach Megan Askegaard. “Both teams really came out with a ton of fire and drive to start the night. You could also see a little bit of nerves coming from the girls as they knew this was the biggest game of the season. We traded points back and forth in the first set unable to string together any major runs on offense. Our defense did a nice job getting to all the attacks from the Nuggets. We also served them tough in the first set and created some problems for them on offense. We pushed points by running our middles whenever we could in the first set.”
Barnesville recorded a 25-16 opening set win, but the Nuggets turned the tables on them in the second set with a 25-15 victory.
“Moving into the second set we were making too many attacking errors to start the set,” noted Coach Askegaard. “We trailed by 4-5 points every time and we just couldn’t push to get the set tied up. We worked hard on trying to get a solid block up on Rustad on the outside, however she is a great hitter who really placed the ball well tonight. Our passing was stronger in this set, but our offense just wasn’t in sync with what we needed to do up on the net to score some points while we were serving. This is such a game of momentum and when you lose it, it is really hard to get it back.”
As for the third set Askegaard said, “We moved back to the other side where we were able to create some great serving runs with the first one coming from Sydney Strand. She really did a nice job serving the seams and putting the ball in play and allowing her defense to go to work. Katie Newell did a great job moving her hitters up on the net with Lexi Bolgrean and Emily Bredman putting the ball away against the Nuggets. We held onto our lead in this set with scrappy defense and powerful attacking.”
Barnesville took a 2-1 lead with a 25-16 victory in the third set.
“The 4th set was very similar to the second set where we had a great start, however, we got ourselves caught in a serve receive rotation that we couldn’t get out of and the Nuggets took advantage of our mistakes on offense,” reported Askegaard.
After falling 25-15 in the fourth set and seeing the match squared at two sets apiece, the Nuggets dominated the fifth set, posting a 15-2 win and a 3-2 match victory.
“The final set of the night moved very quickly as the Nuggets took full advantage of the errors we made on our side of the net,” continued Coach Askegaard. “We got ourselves down right away and hard a difficult time battling back. There were so many mental mistakes in this set that we couldn’t have. We were really hoping to move back to the other side of the net for this 5th set and I really think that played a huge role in the way we came out. We knew that we had just lost the two sets on this side and we couldn’t overcome that. We had a tremendous season and I am extremely proud of the Lady Trojans for all of their accomplishments this season. We have so much to be proud of. They really are a class act group of kids. As tough as it is to lose a match like this, there is so much to be grateful for.”
Leaders for the Trojans were Bolgrean (15 kills, 12/13 serving, 1 ace, 19 digs), Bredman (13 kills), Emily Smith (9 kills, 15/16 serving, 1 solo block), Newell (45 set assists, 5 kills, 8 digs, 9/9 serving), Anna Stanford (21 digs, 14/15 serving, 1 ace), Strand (15 digs, 14/15 serving) and Kenzie Skogen (12/13 serving, 1 ace, 7 digs).