Willmar holds off Buffalo in five games; advances to final against Marshall
MANKATO - The Willmar Cardinals are in the Section 2AAA volleyball champion-ship match for the second year in a row, but they did it the hard way. The No. 2-seeded Cardinals (28-2) needed five games to put away No. 6-seeded Buffalo (22-7) 25-18, ...
MANKATO - The Willmar Cardinals are in the Section 2AAA volleyball champion-ship match for the second year in a row, but they did it the hard way.
The No. 2-seeded Cardinals (28-2) needed five games to put away No. 6-seeded Buffalo (22-7) 25-18, 17-25, 25-18, 22-25, 15-10 Thursday.
Willmar, which will play Marshall back at Bresnan Arena on the Minnesota State, Mankato, campus at 1 p.m. Saturday, never trailed in this match, but just couldn't put the stubborn Bison to rest.
"We were tentative at first," said Willmar Coach Mary Hanson. "They were digging out everything and that frustrates our hitters. When that happens we just have to stick to our offense instead of trying to change things.
"We weren't playing well; we were playing like we were afraid to lose. They are an excellent, well coached team."
Doubtless, Willmar won't be able to afford letdowns against the Marshall Tigers, who polished off a good Hutchinson team 3-0 in the first semifinal. A year ago the Tigers swept Willmar in the 2AAA championship and then went on to win the state title.
"We wanted another shot at Marshall," said Nina Emery, who had three kills and two ace blocks. "We pulled together in the fifth game. We wanted this match really bad."
Down two games to one, the Bison stormed back on the outside hitting of Ashley Allen, who finished with 24 kills and 5-6 Molly Schroeder who finished with 28 kills. The Bison went on a 15-5 run to end the fourth game 25-22 and send the match to the tiebreaker.
Willmar came out strong, shutting down the corners while its taller hitters, Mary Sussenguth and Laura Nielsen, often found themselves facing single coveage on offense. But Buffalo played sharper in the second game, leading as much as 17-11 before cruising to the 25-17 win.
"They started finding holes in our blocks," said Kelsey Hanson who had 32 set assists. "No, we really didn't get nervous in a fifth game. We just played our hearts out."
Sussenguth finished with 20 kills, Greta King nine kills and Nielsen four kills and five blocks. Chelsea Vreeman had nine ace serves, including the match winner.
Libero Jenna Olson had a strong match with 11 digs, said coach Hanson, who also felt sophomore Jamie Wilson, who was 15-for-16 hiting with four kills, played well.
Willmar won its 19th match in a ro.
Willmar 3, Buffalo 2
Buffalo (22-7) 18 25 18 25 10
Willmar (28-2) 25 17 25 22 15
Serving: Molly Schroeder18-19-2, Michaela Quady 15-16-1, Rachel Kunde 2-4-1, Abby Johnson 14-16-5, Ashley Allen 20-21- 4, Bridget Ehrenberg 7-9-0 .... Setting (assists): Hannah Utley 53 .... Hitting (aces): Schroeder 28, Kunde 2, Allen 24, Cece Gilmer 1, Calleigh Brown 5 .... Blocking (aces): Kunde 1, Allen 1, Gilmer 1, Brown 1 .... Digs: Allen 26
Serving: Kelsey Hanson 14-16-1, Chelsea Vreeman 28-29-7, Greta King 7-7-0, Laura Nielsen 13-14-1, Mary Sussenguth 15-16- 3, Nina Emery 18-19-2 .... Setting: Hanson 71-73-32, Jenna Olson 1-1-0, Greta King 4-5-2, Nina Emery 2-2-2 .... Hitting: Hanson 12- 13-3, King 20-23-9, Nielsen 13-14-4, Jamie Wilson 15-16-4, Sussenguth 51-56-20, Emery 10-13 .... Blocking (aces): Hanson 1, King 2, Nielsen 5, Sussenguth 3, Emery 2 .... Digs: Hanson 5, Megan Brown 4, Olson 11, Vreeman 8, King 6, Nielsen 2, Wilson 1, Emery 1, Sussenguth 6