Top-seeded Pequot Lakes will play for a state championship for the first time.
The Patriots swept fifth seed Concordia Academy 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-13) in the Class 2A volleyball state tournament semifinals Friday evening at Xcel Energy Center.
Pequot Lakes used a 12-2 run in the second set to take control of the match. Seven of those points were scored via powerful kills from junior outside hitter Ella Kratochvil.
“I just kept looking at my coaches going, ‘Boy, is she hot,’ ” Pequot Lakes coach Christine Ganley said. “Her hits are so explosive.”
Kratochvil ended the match with 23 kills.
Pequot Lakes will play Cannon Falls for the championship Saturday afternoon.
Pequot Lakes (29-4) put distance between itself and its opponent quickly in each set. The Patriots put the exclamation point on the match with a 16-7 run to close it out.
Pequot Lakes’ Maci Martini and Grace Hoffard registered 11 kills each. Having multiple good hitters, passers and setters is important for the team success, Martini said.
“If one person’s off one night, we always know that we have two or three people behind them ready to do the job as well as they can,” she said.
The Beacons (22-11) were challenged by that “well-balanced” attack, coach Kim Duis indicated, and she said Pequot Lakes “ran a flawless offense tonight.”
“I think it was a little bit of a faster offense than we’ve seen before or we’re used to,” said senior Ava McTeague, who led the Beacons with 10 kills. “Just adjusting to that was a little bit of a challenge for us.”
Cannon Falls 3, Annandale 0: Some thought this might be a rebuilding year for Cannon Falls. The Bombers graduated seven seniors from last year’s state tournament team, including all-tournament setter Jaci Winchell.
“But we’ve shown everybody, that’s not who we are at all,” 6-1 junior middle hitter Madison Burr said.
Apparently not. Second seed Cannon Falls swept third seed Annandale 25-21, 25-14, 25-17 to advance to its first Class 2A championship match. The third set was back-and-forth before the Bombers used a 7-0 run to pull away.
“I think we really struggled to pass tonight, and to control the ball,” Annandale coach Michelle Macalena said.
The Bombers (28-7) started their season 0-2 getting swept by Rochester Century and then losing a five-setter to Stewartville. Communication and team play only improved from there.
“At the beginning, we didn’t really exactly know how to play with each other or talk to each other, especially in the back row,” senior libero Kyra Schoenfelder said.
But on the state’s biggest stage, Cannon Falls got off to a fast start against Annandale (27-5). The effort was largely led by Burr, with her match-high 17 kills, and Schoenfelder’s 26 digs. Schoenfelder made her 1,000th career dig.
Schoenfelder is a constant communicator with good ball control in her first season as a libero, said her coach, Melissa Huseth.
“Has she played her best ball yet? I don’t think so,” Huseth said. “I think she can even play better tomorrow.”