ST. PAUL -- The Pine River-Backus volleyball team got served.
The Wabasha-Kellogg Falcons served up aces all match long in their 26-24, 25-16, 25-15 win over the Tigers in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state volleyball tournament Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Falcons caught PR-B by surprise as they mixed in different serves, rarely allowing the Tigers to get any rhythm on offense. W-K tallied 13 aces in the match, five coming from setter Amy Glomski and four from Carrie Balow.
"(Wabasha-Kellogg) was serving long then short, long then short," Tigers coach Tom Lupella said. "We're not used to that. They really mixed up the serve well. We started thinking too much and not relying on instinct."
The Tigers jumped all over W-K in the first game, grabbing an 8-1 lead by playing aggressively at the net. Hitters Erica Richards and Erin Cusac swung hard and were forces at the net, blocking W-K's attack. Cusac led PR-B with 10 kills while Richards and Jenny Schrupp each had seven kills.
But the Falcons slowly worked their way back. They went on a five-point run to take a 22-20 lead. W-K was up 24-23 when a Richards tip tied the game, but two Tiger errors gave the Falcons the game.
"Being down that much and coming back tells me a lot about our team," W-K coach Katie Gove said. "We have a lot of heart and we don't get rattled too easily."
It was PR-B that got rattled in game one after giving up the large lead. W-K's blocking and aggressive serving forced the Tigers to abandon their game plan and into tipping the ball. The Falcons collected 12 blocks in the match.
"We got shook up out there," Lupella said. "They started digging the ball up really well and they started blocking. That took us out of our game plan. We didn't handle the block very well. We should have changed angles in our hitting."
In the next two games, W-K was able to string together points to build leads the Tigers weren't able to come back from. Leading 10-6 in the second game, the Falcons scored six straight points, which included two Glomski aces.
In the third game, a Cusac kill sparked a six-point run as PR-B opened an early 7-4 lead. But, the Falcons came screaming back. They rattled off six consecutive points, including all four of Balow's aces to retake the lead at 13-7.
"My assistants call out the serves and they try to pick out the weak spots," Gove said. "The players are good enough to find the spots. We knew we'd have to serve tough to break down Pine River's offense."
The Tigers will face Esko, which lost in three games to Tracy-Milroy, in the consolation semifinals Friday at 5 p.m. A loss there will end the Tigers' season.
"We're just going to keep encouraging the girls," Lupella said. "I know that they can play here and that they belong here. They showed that some. We'll just need to get a little confidence back."
Lara Marvin 1 kill, 23 set assists, 11 digs
Chelsey Dabill 2 kills, 1 set assist, 8 digs
Jenny Schrupp 7 kills, 2 set assists, 14 digs
Erica Richards 7 kills, 9 digs, 3 blocks
Erin Cusac 10 kills, 1 set assist, 1 ace, 13 digs, 1 block
Kayla Hamilton 2 kills, 5 digs
Chelsea Christensen 3 digs
Carrie Balow 9 kills, 4 aces, 3 blocks
Amy Glomski 31 set assists, 5 aces
Jessie Sorenson 8 kills, 3 blocks
Anna Brehmer 8 kills, 3 blocks
Danielle Peters 7 kills, 3 aces
Overall -- PR-B 21-6, W-K 27-7. Next match -- PR-B vs. Esko, Class 2A consolation semifinal 5 p.m. Friday.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5865.
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