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Defending state champions stop Wadena-DC in the semifinals

Wadena-Deer Creek's Kennedy Gravelle leaps up for the attack attempt against Mayer Lutheran during the Class A semifinals at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal1 / 2
Wadena-Deer Creek's Ashley Adams uses her left hand for the surprise attack against Mayer Lutheran. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal2 / 2

Wadena-Deer Creek head volleyball coach Sue Volkmann saw a lot of her 2010 state championship team in the defending state champion Mayer Lutheran when the two teams squared off in the Class A semifinals on Nov. 10. The Crusaders, who are a senior-laden team, like the 2010 state champions were, defeated the Wolverines 25-22, 25-13, 25-22 to advance to the Class A Championship.

“I think we played better than I thought. They come back with a lot of seniors, a lot of experience and a state championship,” Volkmann said. “The year we won it, we were in the same boat and came through the tournament 3-0 every game. They should be on the same path. I think our kids came in stuck to it, we just needed to get a break at the end of some of those games to switch momentum a little bit. We just didn’t make that break for us. I give my kids a lot of credit, they hung in there and knew what they were up against and did a good job.”

Ellie Miron

Madi Beck led a trio of Crusaders with double digit kills. Beck finished with 13, while Madison Hucky and Sophia Heuer finished with 12 each. Hucky dished out 28 assists as well for the Crusaders.

“I understand where they are at. It’s a perfect storm for them,” Volkmann said. “These kids were in elementary school the last time we were here and we don’t have that experience this team did. My kids hung in there and I give them credit. They wanted to win, believed they could win and a different bounce here or there, it could have been a different story.”

Ellie Miron led the way for the Wolverines. She finished with 12 kills, while Kennedy Gravelle added nine. Casey Volkmann finished with eight kills. Ashley Adams ended with two. The Wolverines committed 19 attack errors, while finishing with 31 kills.

The Wolverines started strong in the first set, taking a 6-1 lead. Yet, the Crusaders quickly erased the lead. The Wolverines stretched it back up to 12-8, but a 9-0 run by the Crusaders gave them control of the first set. The Wolverines closed to within two late in the set on an ace by Katlyn Heaton, but the Crusaders held off the Wolverines, 25-22.

Mayer Lutheran wasted little time in taking control of the second set. They broke open an 8-8 tie with mini runs. They had a 7-2 run during that span, taking 15-10 lead, before closing out with a 25-13 victory.

Lila Lohmiller

The Wolverines continued to battle and would not go away against the heavy favorite to win the state championship. Miron had a big third set for the Wolverines with six of her 12 kills coming then. Yet, a late surge allowed the Crusaders to pull away. They scored four of the final five points after a kill by Miron, sealing the match with a 25-22 win.

Mayer Lutheran improves to 31-2 overall on the season and will take on either Bethlehem Academy or Minneota in the championship. Their lone losses this year have come against No. 1-ranked Eagan of Class AAA, and No. 1-ranked Maple Lake of Class AA.

The Wolverines fall to 26-7 and will play for third place tomorrow at 11 a.m. against either Bethlehem Academy or Minneota.

“We are going to be ready for that. We really want to take some hardware home,” Sue Volkmann said. “We are disappointed today, we will be ready to play tomorrow.”

Casey Volkmann

Mayer Lutheran def. Wadena-DC 25-22, 25-13, 25-22

ML: Madison Hucky 12K, 28SA, 1AS, 11D; Sophia Heuer 12K, 1SA, 17D; Olivia Tjernagel 8K; Madi Beck 13K, 8D; Mya Chmielewski 2SA, 1AS, 21D; Claudia Stahlke 4K, 3D.

WDC: Lila Lohmiller 1AS, 11D; Ashley Adams 2K, 28SA, 7D; Kennedy Gravelle 9K; Casey Volkmann 8K, 1SA, 11D; Ellie Miron 12K; Aly Daigneault 4D; Courtny Warren 14D, Katlyn Heaton 12D, Mari Grendahl 1D.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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