A packed Brainerd high school gym watched the Pine-River Backus Tigers volleyball team triumph over the Onamia Panthers in a thrilling four-game match Tuesday night.
With the semifinal win, the Tigers move on to play in the Section 5-1A final match on Saturday.
Head coach Alisa Den Hartog said her team kept its composure when it needed to against the Panthers.
"I thought we played pretty scrappy tonight and we played great defense," she said. "We've been winning games like that all year (game four), and so it wasn't new to us, which was to our advantage. It's always fun to win and especially fun to take games like this during tournament time."
Pine River-Backus Tigers senior middle hitter Naomi Anderson (left) and teammate Krystle Hamilton reacted to the Tigers 3-1 victory over Onamia in the Section 5-1A semifinals Tuesday night at Brainerd High School as a dejected Onamia player laid on the floor. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
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Pine River-Backus began the night by taking game one 25-18. After Onamia went up 16-15, the Tigers took 10 of the game's final 12 points.
Game two saw the Panthers roar in the game's closing moment as they took the game's last seven points to grab the 25-21 victory.
Pine-River Backus responded in game three by rolling over Onamia 25-16 and appeared to have the match in hand before a wild game four began.
The Panthers definitely did not have plans to pack up their bags and call it a season as they stormed to an early 8-1 advantage. But the Tigers slowly began to claw their way back into the contest before finally tying the score at 18 apiece.
After Pine River-Backus went up 24-21, the Panthers rattled off four straight points to go up 25-24 to
which the Tigers responded with two points of their own, making it 26-25 with a chance to close things out.
The Tigers didn't take advantage as Onamia put two on the board to go up 27-26. Pine River-Backus evened it at 27 before the Panthers went up 28-27 and failed to end the game.
Pine River-Backus 3, Onamia 1
The key: After taking game three with relative ease to go up 2-1, the Tigers battled with Onamia in game four en route to an eventual 30-28 win that sealed the match.
Conference: PR-B 4-1
Overall: PR-B 26-2
Next: PR-B vs. Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa at Bertha-Hewitt Saturday TBA
Finally the Tigers scored the game's final three points to take the roller coaster deciding game 30-28.
Tigers' freshman Katie Wangberg, who finished with 26 set assists, said Tuesday's experience was an exciting one.
"It was tense but it was great to pull through," she said. "Tournament time is great because the competition is really making us work for our victories."
Pine River-Backus 25 21 25 30
Onamia 18 25 16 28
Pine River-Backus statistics
Katie Wangberg 26 set assists,
1 ace, 15 digs, 4 kills
Taylor Sheley 1 set assist, 2 aces, 33 digs, 14 kills
Krystle Hamilton 5 set assists, 21 digs, 1 kill
Paige Sepin 1 set assist, 4 digs, 10 kills
Naomi Anderson 1 set assist, 2 digs, 18 kills
Kristina Behrens 4 aces, 13 digs
Laura Laposky 2 aces, 20 digs
Crysta Christensen 6 aces, 13 digs, 2 kills
TY RUSHMEYER, sports writer, may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5865.
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