BBE earns trip to state
MELROSE - The third time was the charm for the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa volleyball team. After twice being turned away by MACCRAY in the last three years, the Jaguars earned their first state tournament berth since pairing 20 years ago with a 26-2...
MELROSE - The third time was the charm for the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa volleyball team.
After twice being turned away by MACCRAY in the last three years, the Jaguars earned their first state tournament berth since pairing 20 years ago with a 26-24, 25-7, 25-22 win over Benson in the Section 6AA title game Saturday.
BBE (28-2) will play Stewartville, ranked No. 3 in the final Class AA poll, in the state tournament quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
"It feels great. We're all so excited. We've worked so hard for this day," said BBE junior hitter April Hansen.
Making the most of this third opportunity was foremost on the minds of Jaguars entering Saturday's match. BBE took only one game in its previous two section championship games, losing 3-0 in 2004 and 3-1 in 2002.
BBE's biggest lead in the first game came after a Tiffany Gruber kill for a 19-13 score.
Benson came back behind the serving of Courtney Frank - two straight ace serves - and a strong defense.
"I knew that we were going to be playing defense a lot tonight," Benson coach Erick Hedman said. "They're definitely a state tournament-caliber team."
Another Tiffany Gruber kill put the Jaguars up 25-24, and a Benson attack error ended the game.
The Braves took a 4-1 lead in the second game, but it quickly deflated. BBE's Ashley Lensing served five straight points and Gruber ran a string of three more to put Benson in a 19-6 hole.
BBE again needed just a slight 19-16 lead to wrap up the first team state tournament berth in school history.
"We didn't want to sound immature and say, 'We deserve it,' but we really, really believed that we deserved it," Knutson said.
Lensing led three Jaguar players in double-digit kills with 14, had 18 digs and three ace blocks. Hansen followed with 13 kills and Gruber added 10 on 19-of-20 hitting. Holly Thompson registered 36 set assists.
Emily Jensen paced the Braves with nine kills. Nikki Linn had 19 set assists and Jenny Flaten added 13 digs.
BBE 3, Benson 0
Benson (21-8)........................................24 7 22
BBE (28-2)..............................................25 25 25
Serving: Kelly Jepma 8-8-0, Ashley Lindahl 2-2-1, Jessica Ascheman 5-5-0, Emily Jense 10-11-0, Annie Ecklund 7-7-0, Nikki Linn 10-10-0, Courtney Frank 8-11-2 .... Setting: Linn 92-93-19 .... Hitting: Jepma 19-22-5, Ascheman 21-26-4, Jensen 16-27-9, Ecklund 4-6-2, Frank 2-3-1 .... Blocking (aces): Jensen 1 ... Digs: Katie Razink 3, Jensen 5, Jenny Flaten 13, Jepma 6
Serving: April Hansen 9-10-1, Emily Roelike 12-13-0, Ashley Lensing 14-14-0, Tiffany Gruber 13-13-0, Ashley Roelike 14-14-1, Holly Thompson 6-6-0 .... Setting: Thompson 95-95-36 .... Hitting: Hansen 22-26-13, A. Lensing 24-30-14, T. Gruber 19-20-10, Heidi Lensing 9-10-2, K. Gruber 16-18-4, Thompson 5-5-1 .... Blocking (aces): Hansen 1, A. Lensing 3, H. Lensing 1, K. Gruber 1 ... Digs: Hansen 7, A. Lensing 18, T. Gruber 9, H. Lensing 5, A. Roelike 8, K. Gruber 2, Thompson 6
NEXT - BBE: Thursday, Class AA quarterfinals vs. Stewartville at Xcel Energy Center, 5 p.m.