PIERZ -- Their name might suggest they're great defensive volleyball players, but Pierz Pioneers' Stacy and Kari Block are a force on offense, too.
Kari Block helped finish off fourth-seeded Milaca's season with a 20-for-22 serving, four-ace, 15-kill, four-set assist, six-block and 16-dig performance Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Section 5AA volleyball playoffs.
Her sister, Stacy, was 12-16 serving with two aces, 13 kills, five blocks and 14 digs.
Kari is a sophomore and Stacy is a junior. Together they've helped Pierz stay away from the rebuilding label that Pioneers head coach Sheryl Wesenberg thought was going to identify this team.
"They almost make it look like it's not," said Wesenberg. "They're good, hard, tough players. They're smart.
"They're not afraid to try anything. They're very coachable and that just keeps everyone going. When they're working hard, good things happen."
Although they didn't have the success of years past, the Pioneers continued to be a threat as they have been in every game until the end. A large part has to do with the development of the Block sisters, who didn't see much action on last year's team.
"Stacy just doesn't want to make any mistakes," said Wesenberg. "She's a go-to person. Kari has come on a little bit stronger. Stacy was with the team last year so she learned from that group. I think team-wise we're starting to jell as a cohesive unit. That's because we're coming to a time in the year where if you lose you're done."
Against Milaca, Kari Block showed her maturity as she served 12 straight points and finished off the game with the final three.
"I think Kari's future is front row hitting and blocking," said Wesenberg. "She's not afraid to slam the ball. Kari will go for it all. The more she plays, the more sets she gets, the better she will get because she has great mechanics and technique and good basics."
The two sisters play side by side in the Pioneers' rotation. Stacy is a middle hitter while Kari is the right hitter. The fact that they are sisters helps with the familiarity in a fast moving offense.
"They play really well together," said Wesenberg. "They know each other and can talk back and forth. They help each other out even at home. They are both very athletic and very upbeat.
"They are encouraging and very positive. They don't allow a bad play to get them down."
Of the two, Stacy has been the more consistent, plus she's been a good leader for her sister, as well as the team.
"She (Stacy) is very consistent with everything she does," said Wesenberg. "She's serving in the 94 percentile. Her hitting is high. Her high percent consistency is the best part of her game. She's just a smart player."
Other notable performances:
Cross country -- Pierz's Stacy Britz placed fourth in the Section 5A meet Thursday and will advance to her second straight Class A state meet.
Volleyball -- Wadena-Deer Creek's Kerby Johnson was 18-for-18 serving with five aces, six digs and a team leading 12 kills in a 3-0 win Thursday over Frazee. Johnson had 18 kills Friday in a win over Menahga.
Tennis -- The Staples-Motley Cardinals tennis team finished third in the Class A state tournament.
Staples-Motley's doubles team of Laura Warn and Rose Milless finished fourth in the Class A individual state tennis tournament Saturday.
Mikaela Schmitt of Wadena-Deer Creek finished fourth for the second straight year at the Class A individual state tennis tournament Saturday.
Swimming -- The Little Falls Flyers 400-yard freestyle relay team of Jessie Ylitalo, Kayla Emblom, Monica Mogg and Julie Carlson broke a Sauk Rapids pool record with a time of 3:54.78.
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