WILLMAR -- In the end, the Willmar volleyball team just wanted the victory more.
The Cardinals, the No. 7 seed in the Section 2AAA tournament willed their way to a 25-21, 24-26, 25-18, 22-25, 15-11 win over Mankato West in their first-round match Wednesday.
Willmar (16-12) play at No. 2 Chaska Friday in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m.
Tenacity paid off in the end for the Cardinals, who couldn't put away the Scarlets with a chance in the second game.
"Sometimes kids play afraid to lose instead of wanting to win," said Willmar coach Mary Hanson. I've got six seniors who didn't want this to be their last game and didn't want to be the ones to make mistakes."
Already up 1-0, the Cardinals jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the second game and was ahead 22-17. But Mankato West's Ashley Veroeven served three straight aces and Emily Miller slammed down a kill to tie the match.
In the deciding fifth game, Willmar finally found a groove. Annalise Bratt served three consecutive points, then Kelsey Evans came up with her 22nd kill and Emily Nelsen her 20th to win the match.
"They have a lot of heart," Hanson said. "This is our home court and we needed to play like it."
Evans had only one hitting error in 40 attempts and also led the team with two ace blocks. Brittney Hastad and Jennie Mattison served three aces, Hannah Smith had 30 set assists and Hastad collected 26 digs.
Willmar 3, Mankato West 2
Mankato West 21 26 18 25 11
Willmar 25 24 25 22 15
Statistics not available
Serving: Brittney Hastad 10-11-3, Annalise Bratt 13-15-1, Kelsey Evans 14-17-0, Hannah Smith 23-26-1, Emily Nelsen 13-17-1, Jennie Mattison 11-14-3 ... Setting: Smith 62-64-30, Mattison 69-70-23 ... Hitting: Taya Nelson 14-17-7, Evans 39-40-22, Smith 18-21-7, Nelsen 35-50-20, Mattison 5-5-2, Alex Lippert 12-12-4, Jena Thompson 13-17-7 ... Blocking (aces): Evans 2, Nelsen 1, Thompson 1 ... Digs: Hastad 26, Bratt 6, Smith 9, Mattison 6, Karlee Johnson 4, Thompson 4