State volleyball: BBE falls in five-game thriller to Stewartville

ST. PAUL - Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa fell three points short of upending No. 3 Stewartville in the state Class AA quarterfinals Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

ST. PAUL - Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa fell three points short of upending No. 3 Stewartville in the state Class AA quarterfinals Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Instead, the Tigers captured Game 4 and went on to dominate Game 5 for a 25-14, 21-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-8 win. BBE (28-3) will play St. Cloud Cathedral in the consolation semifinals at 5 p.m. today.

The Jaguars led 2-1, but fell behind 6-1 in the fourth game. Neither team could break away for a controlling lead. Stewartville had advantages of 9-5, 16-12 and 19-16, but BBE picked away and tied the match at 21 on a Tigers' attack error.

An error and an Aimee Irlbeck kill won the game for Stewartville.

Game 5 saw the Jaguars struggle for consistency like they did in the first game. Most importantly, they couldn't solve the jump serve of Laura Hoover. The 5-foot-7 junior served seven points in that game, which was finished with another Irlbeck kill.


Irlbeck led all players with 28 kills.

"I had heard that from opponents they went up against that she's the toughest," said BBE coach Mimi Knutson. "We had trouble with that. They played a great defense on us and changed things up in the fourth and fifth gamese on our middles."

Hoover served a match-high 40 times - more than twice as much as anyone else - with nine aces.

Hoover flustered the Jaguars in the first game, serving 13 straight points to end the game. She recorded seven aces and forced Knutson to take two timeouts.

BBE had it figured out in the second and third games, holding Hoover to three serves while playing excellent defense.

"Our strength is not our hitting," said Stewartville coach John Dzubay, whose team made 13 consecutive tournament appearances from 1989-2001. "They have really good hitters and then played awesome defense. It was just more than we could handle for a while."

The Jaguars didn't dominate during their two-game winning streak, but got key points when they needed them. Junior Ashley Lensing served four straight points, including an ace, to erase a 13-10 deficit, then added two kills to help BBE tie the match.

Defensively, junior Kelly Hieserich and freshman Emily Roelike filled in well in the back row.


"Throughout the season we'd go back-and-forth with a couple of positions," she said. "Tonight, Kelly Hieserich was able to pick up some things a little better. That's what a team is all about; being ready to step in to cover someone else who isn't playing well."

Junior April Hansen recorded 14 kills and had only one error in 37 attempts to lead the Jaguars. Senior Tiffany Gruber and Lensing had 11 kills each, with Lensing adding two ace blocks and Gruber 20 digs. Senior Holly Thompson had 34 assists.

"They had four good hitters," Dzubay noted. "Their top two hitters were better than our leading hitter and then their next two are better than our second one."

Stewartville 3, BBE 2

BBE (28-3) 14 25 25 22 8

Stewartville (26-5) 25 21 21 25 15


Serving: Ashley Lensing 15-16-1, Emily Roelike 17-17-1, Holly Thompson 11-12-1, April Hansen 18-19-1, Kelly Hieserich 12-12-0, Ashley Roelike 5-5-0, Tiffany Gruber 13-14-1 ... Setting: Thompson 117-118-34 ... Hitting: Lensing 39-48-11, Thompson 9- 9-3, Hansen 36-37-14, Katie Gruber 17-20-5, Heidi Lensing 7-10-2, T. Gruber 31-35-11 ... Blocking (aces): A. Lensing 2 ... Digs: A. Lensing 16, E. Roelike 5, Thompson 11, Hansen 16, Hieserich 5, K. Gruber 5, A. Roelike 2, H. Lensing 1, T. Gruber 20



Serving: Nikki Scherr 5-6-1, Julie Rainey 7-7-0, Amanda Thompson 16-17-3, Renee Waugh 1-1-0, Aimee Irlbeck 11-12-2, Leigh Splittstoesser 15-17-1, Laura Hoover 36-40-9, Alex Wold 5-6-0 ... Setting: Splittstoesser 156-157-49 ... Hitting: Scherr 4-6-0, Kami Robertson 2-2-0, Rainey 2-2-1, Thompson 23-31-7, Waugh 17-21-7, Irlbeck 59-66-28, Splittstoesser 16-16-7, Erin Ness 19-23- 8, Hoover 9-13-6, Wold 11-14-3 ... Blocking (aces): Waugh 1... Digs: Scherr 1, Ashley Frey 4, Robertson 19, Rainey 14, Thompson 6, Waugh 3, Irlbeck 15, Splittstoesser 8, Ness 6, Hoover 8, Wold 1

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