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Willmar advances to semifinals

Not since the 1984 season had the Willmar Cardinals capped an unbeaten volleyball season at home. That all changed Saturday night when they swept Monticello 25-13, 26-24, 25-8 in the quarterfinals of Section 2AA.

Not since the 1984 season had the Willmar Cardinals capped an unbeaten volleyball season at home. That all changed Saturday night when they swept Monticello 25-13, 26-24, 25-8 in the quarterfinals of Section 2AA.

The tournament now moves to Minnesota State-Mankato for the semifinals and championship. Willmar will face Buffalo at approximately 7:30 p.m. Thursday, following the other semifinal match between Marshall and Hutchinson.

"If we play like we did tonight, we'll be hard to beat," assessed Willmar coach Mary Hanson, in her 17th season. "We started out a little slow and we gradually got better and better."

Willmar bolted to a 7-0 lead in the opening game with senior Chelsea Vreeman serving a pair of aces and senior Mary Sussenguth providing a pair of kills.

Monticello eventually closed within 12-10 before the Cardinals shifted gears and took off again. Laura Nielsen served the final four points on two more Sussenguth kills and two miscues by Monticello.

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"We really wanted this match," said Vreeman. "It took us a little while to get going, but then we got things going and played well."

Willmar, which had a definite height advantage on the Magic, struggled a bit in the second game and trailed 20-18. But a Monticello tipping error was followed by a Sussenguth kill and Willmar never trailed again.

Tied 24-24, Willmar scored the final two points of the game on a kill by sophomore Greta King and a Monticello setting error.

The Cardinals then dominated game three.

Sussenguth finished with 14 kills and seven ace blocks King had nine kills and a team-high 12 digs. Kelsey Hanson chalked up 26 set assists, two ace blocks and two ace serves. Nielsen had four ace blocks and Vreeman three ace serves. Jamie Wilson and Nina Emery added three kills apiece.

It was the final home match for seven Willmar seniors -- Sussenguth, Hanson, Vreeman, Nielsen, Emery, Jenna Olson and Randiann Sather.

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