CMCS title hopes dashed
ST. PAUL -- There's at least one Vikings team in Minnesota that hasn't yet disappointed its fans. Christian Minnesota Christian did all it could to stop the Minneota bandwagon Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center before bowing to the undefe...
ST. PAUL -- There's at least one Vikings team in Minnesota that hasn't yet disappointed its fans.
Christian Minnesota Christian did all it could to stop the Minneota bandwagon Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center before bowing to the undefeated Vikings in five games -- 19-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, and 15-12.
"It's disappointing," said senior libero Moriah Gulbranson in the arena hallway after the Class A semifinal, "but we played very well. It was an awesome match."
The Vikings, now 29-0, have shut out 23 opponents and before yesterday had never lost more than one game in a match. The Bluejays are the first team to take Minneota to a fifth-game tiebreaker.
The Bluejays came in with nine losses, including an early-season loss (20-25, 20-25, 19-25) to the Vikings.
"It helped to have played them once and then see them play in the quarterfinals (a 3-0 win over Meadow Creek Christian)," said CMCS head coach Traci Grussing. "We had a plan but we didn't always execute, especially in Games Two and Three."
The Bluejays controlled the opener trailing only once at 5-4. Cassie Ulferts served CMCS to 8-5 and the Vikings' never got inside two points again as CMCS won by six, 25-19.
The underdogs took charge again in Game Two. With Kaitlyn Link at the service line, the Bluejays expanded a 12-8 lead to 16-8. Points came on kills by Jenny Blom and Ulferts (2) and a Minneota hitting error.
But the Vikings surged to grab the momentum for the first time on kills by Alyssa Buysse and hitting errors by the now tentative Bluejays. The Vikings' 25-22 win evened it 1-1.
"They (CMCS) just went for the ball flat out," said Heidi Peterson, the Vikings' 23-year-old first-year head coach. "We had to make some adjustments after the first game, mainly blocking and pick it up on defense. Our libero Brooke Minnehan really saved us with her digging."
Game Three was 15-13, Minneota, until setter Hayley Hennen served seven straight points for a 25-16 win for a 2-1 lead in games.
Between games, the Bluejays were determined to extend the match.
"We said we want to show what we're made of and the kind of game we can play," said Gulbranson.
Tied 12-12, a kill by Kari Mulder started CMCS on the way to victory in Game Four. Kresson Vreeman had three kills, Gulbrandson a service ace and Blom the final point in the 25-21 win.
But the Vikings shot out front in the tiebreaker 3-0 before Vreeman served up two aces and a kill by Abby Tebben tied it up. CMCS took a 6-4 lead but back-to-back hitting errors put Minneota in the lead for good, though it was tied 12-132 on a kill be Vreeman.
Kaufmann finished it out 15-12 with her 26th kill of the match.
"I was so pumped to play today and after that first game, I thought we were going to win it," said Vreeman, a versatile senior playing in her fourth state tournament. "We really wanted to win it for (Coach Grussing) since this is it after 16 years. We came close."
After losing four starters, the Bluejays weren't expected to got this far, Vreeman pointed out. Yet, today, they will play for the third-place trophy a second year in a row.
Vreeman finished with 13 kills, 25 digs and 30 set assists. Ulferts supplied 11 kills, 18 assists and 120 digs.
Minnehan made a match-high 36 defensive digs for the Vikings. Buysse and Boulton added 11 kills each to Kopfmann's impressive total of 26 with eight errors in 61 attempts.
The Vikings will face Bethlehem Academy in a rematch of last year's championship match won by the Faribault team.
Minneota 3, CMCS 2
CMCS (22-10) 25 22 16 25 12
Minneota (29-0) 19 25 25 21 15
Central Minnesota Christian
Serving: Moriah Gulbranson 16-17-3, Jenny Blom 12-12-0, Kresson Vreeman 18-20-3, Cassie Ulferts 17-18-2, Kaitlyn Link 22-24-2, Rachelle Marcus 8-9-0 ... Setting: Kari Mulder 4-4-0, Jenny Blom 3-3-0, Tara Frikke 5-5-0, Vreeman 89-90-30, Ulferts 73-73-18, Lacey Tebben 1-1-0, Abby Tebben 1-1-0, Allison Slagter 1-1-0, Link 2-2-0 ... Hitting: Mulder 32-37-9, Blom 26-30-6, Frikke 11-16-4, Vreeman 40-47-13, Ulferts 29-32-11, A. Tebben 20-22-7 ... Blocking (aces): Mulder 2, Blom 1, Frikke 3, Vreeman 1, Ulferts 3 ... Digs: Gulbranson 16, Mulder 3, Blom 19, Frikke 5, Vreeman 25, Ulferts 10, A. Tebben 3, Link 16
Serving: Hayley Hennen 22-23-3, Alyssa Buysse 19-19-3, Claire Kopfmann 16-17-3, Steph Boulton 6-10-0, Leah Fadness 22-22-2, Brooke Minnehan 14-14-0 ... Setting: Hennen 158-160-49 ... Hitting: H. Hennen 10-11-4, Samantha Hennen 14-18-4, Buysse 41-47-11, Kopfmann 53-61-26, Boulton 32-41-11, Fadness 15-17-4 ... Blocking (aces): S. Hennen 2, Buysse 3, Kopfmann 2, Boulton 1 ... Digs: H. Hennen 18, Buysse 10, Kopfmann 5, Boulton 20, Fadness 8, Minnehan 36