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Justine Rittgers received a serve during Park Rapids' win over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Thursday night.

Panthers pull off dramatic win over W-H-A

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sports Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

     Molly Aukes saw plenty of character from the Park Rapids volleyball team in the home opener Thursday night.

     After losing Set 2 and Set 3, the Panthers rallied for a 28-26, 12-25, 23-25, 25-15, 15-8 win over Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in a humid Area High School gym.

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     Set 1 proved to  be a preview of the entire match as both teams battled through 17 ties and seven lead changes before the Panthers prevailed. Tips by Shania Johnson and Mady Vaudrin, an ace serve by Justine Rittgers, two kills by Morgan Dean and a tip by Megan Grimes gave the Panthers a 12-11 edge. Tips by Grimes and Rittgers, a block by Vaudrin, another tip by Dean and a service winner by Vaudrin gave Park Rapids a 24-21 advantage before the Wolves rallied for a 24-24 tie. The Panthers had two more set points before a tip by Johnson helped close out the set.

     After WHA jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Set 2, kills by Grimes and Vaudrin closed the gap to 9-6. Sarah Scott served 13 straight points as the Wolves claimed a 23-6 advantage. A kill by Grimes and an ace serve during a five-point run by Sydney Bynum closed the gap to 23-12 before the Wolves evened the match.

     The next set was another close one as the teams battled through nine ties and five lead changes before the Wolves prevailed. A tip by Grimes, a dig by Rittgers, two ace serves by Grimes, a pair of tips by Bynum and an ace serve by Vaudrin gave the Panthers a 14-10 advantage. Two kills by Grimes, a winning spike by Vaudrin, and a kill and tip by Grimes gave Park Rapids a 23-22 edge before the Wolves closed out the set.

     The Panthers quickly took over the momentum in Set 4 as a spike by Grimes, two ace serves by Dean, a tip by Johnson, two kills and a block by Vaudrin and an ace serve by Grimes sparked the Panthers to a 10-1 lead. Rittgers served six points, including an ace, as the Panthers extended their advantage to 18-4. After Sarah Anderson served the Wolves to within 18-11, kills by Vaudrin and Grimes made it 23-15 before an ace serve by Grimes forced a deciding set.

     Two ace serves by Dean, a tip by Grimes and a kill by Vaudrin gave the Panthers a 9-5 lead in Set 5. After a kill by Grimes, Emily Dean served four points and Grimes pounded down a kill for a 13-8 edge before Grimes ended the match with another kill.

     The win evened the Panthers’ record at 1-1.

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