After pulling off three straight upsets, Montevideo's remarkable playoff run came to a screeching halt on Saturday as Marshall overpowered the Thunder Hawks 25-13, 25-10, 25-23 in the Section 3AA volleyball championship at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Montevideo's uniforms were expected to have packed up and put in storage several days ago. But the Thunder Hawks (17-10), seeded No. 6 in Section 3AA-North, refused to go away quietly, upsetting No. 3 Yellow Medicine East in the quarterfinals, No. 2 Morris Area in the semifinals and No. 1 Benson in the championship. But Marshall (23-3), which pulled off a mild upset of its own in the South half of Section 3AA with a win over top-seeded Jackson County Central, refused to be victim No. 4.
Montevideo came out of the blocks with another upset on its mind, bolting to a 3-0 in Game 1 against Marshall, rated No. 2 in Class AA. But the Tigers quickly sharped their claws, scored four unanswered points and never trailed in the game again. Montevideo was still in the game at 10-10, but Marshall scored 15 of the next 18 points. Leading 17-12, Marshall's Dani Beekman served seven straight points, highlighted by three kills from Rachel Westby. At 24-13, Marshall closed the game on another kill by Westby.
"I told the girls they had nothing to hang their heads about," said Montevideo coach Joanna Magnuson. "We had a great run. I don't think I've ever seen a number six seed get this far and they should be proud of that. I told them, too, that Marshall is possibly the best team in the state."
Marshall thoroughly dominated the second game. Beekman recorded six of her 11 kills in the middle stanza, and Westby served 10 straight points during one stretch.
Still, the Thunder Hawks would not go away quietly and held a slim lead throughout the third game, by as much at five points at 18-13. Each time Marshall would close the gap, Montevideo refused to relinquish as hitter Beka Schwendemann and Brooke Tastad thwarted away Marshall's sweep attempt.
Clinging to a 22-21 advantage, Montevideo padded its lead to 23-21 on a kill by Tastad. That would by the last point of the season by the Thunder Hawks. Marshall tied it 23-23 on a Montevideo serving error and a kill by Westby. With Kayla Wallerich serving, the Tigers took the lead on a Montevideo hitting error and won the match when a lift was called on the Thunder Hawks.
Schwendemann finished with eight kills, Tastad had five and Karrissa Larson four.
While this Thunder Hawks team won't be remembered for winning a section title, but they will always be remembered for their resiliency.
Marshall 3, Montevideo 0
Montevideo 13 10 23
Marshall 25 25 25
Serving: Nichole Strei 2-5-0, Hayley Kubista 8-9-0, Carly Beals 7-7-0, Beka Schwendemann 12-12-1, Karrissa Larson 9-9-0, Elissa Christenson 6-6-0... Setting: Strei 19-21-5, Kubista 2-2-0, Beals 37-37-14, Jaci Clauson 2-2-1, Schwendemann 5-5-0, Mirando Kostboth 1-1-0 ... Hitting: Beals 2-2-1, Tastad 12-16-5, Clauson 3-6-0, Schwendemann 17-18-8, Kostboth 9-10-3, Larson 12-14-4, Christenson 1-1-0 ... Blocking (aces): Beals 1, Clauson 1, Schwendemann 2, Kostboth 2, Larson 4 ... Digs: Strei 6, Kubista 4, Beals 10, Tastad 4, Schwendemann 9, Kostboth 1, Larson 5, Christenson 13
Statistics not available