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Willmar clears the first hurdle

WILLMAR -- Every journey begins with the first step. The Willmar Cardinal volleyball team left the starting line Thursday night on their own floor, downing Glencoe-Silver Lake in the first round of the Section 2AAA volleyball tournament 25-15, 25...

WILLMAR -- Every journey begins with the first step.

The Willmar Cardinal volleyball team left the starting line Thursday night on their own floor, downing Glencoe-Silver Lake in the first round of the Section 2AAA volleyball tournament 25-15, 25-15, 25-16.

Willmar needs three more wins to gain the state tournament for the first time in the program's history, which dates to 1974.

"We're excited the playoffs have finally got here," said senior hitter Laura Nielsen.

Obviously, the Cardinals want another shot at No. 1-seed Marshall, which swept them in the 2004 final.

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"Last year we knew if we made it to the finals, they'd be very good," said Nielsen. "This year, if we make it we feel we have a shot -- but we've got to get there first."

For the second straight year Willmar got the No. 2 seed behind Marshall.

Willmar (26-2) won its 17th straight match. The Cardinals were ranked ninth in final Class AAA state poll released Monday.

The Cardinals host No. 10 Monticello Saturday at 7 p.m. in the quarterfinals.

Leaders against the Panthers of the Wright County Conference were Mary Sussenguth with 15 kills and Kelsey Hanson with five ace serves and 25 set assists. Greta King served up three aces, made five kills and oand one ace block. Megan Brown supplied 10 idgs., ing and Chelsea Vreeman seven each.

GSL coach Theo Fotis said his team played good defense and executed well against the heavily-favored host team.

"Willmar is a very good team," he said. "They cover the floor so well defensively, the middle and outside. They'll do well in the playoffs."

The Magic upset No. 7 Mankato East 27-25, 25-19, 23-25, 22-25, 15-6. Marshall, No. 5 Waconia and No. 4 Hutchinson were also winners.

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Willmar 3, Glencoe-SL 0

Glencoe-SL (6-18) 15 15 16

Willmar (26-2) 25 25 25

(Key: good-attempts-aces)

Glencoe-Silver Lake

Statistics not available

Willmar

Serving: Kelsey Hanson 15-16--5, Chelsea Vreeman 12-13-2, Greta King 14-16-3, Laura Nielsen 11-12-0, Mary Sussenguth 9-9-3, Nina Emery 4-6-1 .... Setting: Hanson 51-52-25, Megan Brown 1-1-0, King 7-7-2, Emery 1-1-0 .... Hitting: Hanson 15-15-4, Heather Thoma 1-1-1, Chelsea Vreeman 1-1-0, King 9-11-5, Nielsen 13-14-5, Sussenguth 24-25-15, Jamie Wilson 10-11-2, Emery 5-8-4 .... Blocking (aces): King 1, Nielsen 2, Sussenguth 2... Digs: Hanson 2, Brown 10, Jenna Olson 5, Vreeman 7, Sather 1, King 7, Nielsen 2, Sussenguth 1, Emery 1

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