One down for Wolverines at state tourney
Sue Volkmann's Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines took their first big step toward a season-long goal Thursday night as they topped Delano in the Class AA state quarterfinals.
Mixing with the state's best volleyball teams at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center for the third straight year, the Wolverines defeated Delano 25-18, 25-20, 25-18 to qualify for Friday night's championship semifinals against Sauk Centre, a 3-1 winner over No. 3-ranked Marshall.
WDC and Sauk Centre were scheduled to meet in a 7 p.m. Match Friday. The two clubs met Sept. 30 in Wadena with the Wolverines winning a 3-0 decision.
Not only did the Wolverines run their season record to 31-0, they guaranteed themselves Friday and Saturday games in St. Paul.
"These kids are unbelievable, wonderful and they deserve this," Volkmann beamed after watching her team deal with the Tigers.
The Wolverines did not play Delano during the regular season but the Tigers were not strangers. Their players have squared off in Junior Olympics volleyball in the past.
The unranked Tigers gave the second-seeded Wolverines trouble in Game 2 after they grabbed a 5-0 lead behind two kills each from Bridget Pinoniemi and Emilee Duske.
Playing a strong defensive game at the net, the Tigers maintained their lead until Courtney Volkmann's serving helped WDC tie the game at 18-all.
The Wolverines had 43 kills to Delano's 26. Brittney Noon accounted for a team-high 14 kills. Kelsi Crawford came up with 10.
"They gave us a challenge, especially in the second set," Crawford said.
Noon compared Delano to Section 8AA foe Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
"They had a real good block," Noon said.
Volkmann led the Wolverines with 32 set assists, 13 digs and four ace serves.
Crawford believes it will be crucial for WDC to handle the block well in the last two rounds of the state tournament.
"It was good to play them in the first round," Crawford said.
Duske, Olivia Garrett and Lyndsay Kelzer all collected six kills in the game. Garrett had 14 assists and Rhea Ylitalo had 10 digs.
Other first-round winners Thursday were No. 1 Hutchinson and No. 4 Stewartville.
With a good fan base backing them up, the Wolverines were eager to return to the Xcel Center court Friday.
"It's a blast being here," Crawford said. "The whole experience is just crazy."
Wadena-Deer Creek 25-25-25,
Wadena-Deer Creek (31-0) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Brittney Noon 14-2-1; Kelsi Crawford 10-0-1; Rachael Carlisle 7-0-1; Courtney Volkmann 6-4-3; Emily Miron 5-0-3; Rachel Craig 1-0-3; Avery Jackson 0-1-0; Totals 43-7-7.0. (Assists) - Courtney Volkmann 32. (Dig leaders) - Courtney Volkmann 13; Brittney Noon 11; Hope Theisen 9; Avery Jackson 9
Delano (22-9) (Kills-aces-blocks) - Lyndsay Kelzer 6-0-2; Olivia Garrett 6-0-1; Emilee Duske 6-0-2; Shelby Seurer 3-0-3; Bridget Pinoniemi 3-0-1; Amanda Hanson 2-0-0; Kara Oja 0-1-0; Rhea Ylitalo 0-1-0; Totals 26-2-5.0. (Assists) - Olivia Garrett 14. (Dig leaders) - Rhea Ylitalo 10; Amanda Hanson 8