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Members of the Nevis volleyball team posed with the state Class A consolation championship trophy after Saturday's win over Parkers Prairie at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (Submitted photo)

Tigers cap off historic season by winning consolation title

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Getting to the state tournament for the first time in school history wasn't enough for the Nevis volleyball team.

The Tigers wanted to cap off this historic season by bringing home a trophy from the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

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Thanks to key plays by all seven players throughout the three-day tournament, the Tigers were able to fulfill that mission by winning the Class A consolation trophy.

Nevis made its state debut Thursday afternoon by jumping out to an early lead before Meadow Creek Christian rallied for a 22-25, 15-25, 25-9, 25-22, 16-14 quarterfinal victory.

In Friday's consolation semifinals, the Tigers fell behind early before rallying for a 20-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-16 victory over Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop.

The Tigers took control early against Parkers Prairie in the consolation championship match Saturday morning before having to regroup to prevail 25-19, 25-17, 17-25, 24-26, 18-16.

"Our team wanted to make it to the state tournament for a long time. They started to believe it was possible competing with the best teams in the state," said Nevis head coach Stephanie Hanson, whose team ended the season with a 27-6 record. "Each game was a challenge. We came out strong right away, then had our moments when we started to hesitate and that hurt us. However, it didn't last long. We played strong every match and never let up. Getting two victories in the state tournament; how awesome is that?"

All seven players - seniors Mandy Allman, Annie Albright and Maggie Lindow; juniors Annessa Feder and Paige Walters; sophomore Bettsy Hjelseth and freshman Riley Hanson - played crucial roles in helping the Tigers end the season with a win.

Bethlehem Academy defeated No. 2 Minneota 25-18, 25-17, 25-17 in the title match while MCC defeated Lake of the Woods 25-23, 25-21, 18-25, 25-27, 16-14 for third place.

Hanson was named to the Class A all-tournament team while Lindow was named as an all-state honorable mention player. In the three matches, Hanson had 71 kills, 54 digs, 13 blocks and four service aces while Lindow had 55 kills, 35 digs, 11 blocks and seven ace serves.

"Being physically prepared is only part of the game. Staying mentally focused is 80 percent of the game. We wanted to be stronger than our opponents in both," said Hanson. "We knew we could win. The girls battled till the end and I was so proud of them."

Composed Saints rally for win

Nevis controlled the first two sets and appeared headed for a showdown with top-rated Bethlehem Academy in the semifinals before Meadow Creek Christian rallied for the win.

An ace serve by Lindow, two kills by Walters, and kills by Lindow and Hanson gave Nevis a 7-2 lead in Set 1. Kills by Hanson, Allman and Lindow and an ace serve by Allman pushed the lead to 13-6. MCC rallied to tie the set at 14-14 before two kills by Hanson and a kill by Walters led to a 19-19 tie. The set was tied 22-22 when two kills by Lindow gave Nevis the early lead.

In Set 2, kills by Lindow and Hanson and an ace serve by Walters gave the Tigers a quick 5-2 lead. Two kills by Hanson and a kill by Lindow made it 10-5 before three kills by Walters and an ace serve by Albright pushed a 12-8 advantage to 19-9. Two kills by Feder, a kill by Hanson and three errors by the Saints put Nevis in charge.

MCC took advantage of 12 Nevis errors to win Set 3. Lindow's service ace and kill gave Nevis a 2-1 lead before the Saints went on a 9-2 run. A service ace by Hanson pulled Nevis to within 10-7, but MCC closed out the set with a 15-2 run. Lexi Bertsch served out the final nine points to put the Saints back in the match.

Bertsch served MCC to a 5-0 lead in Set 4 before two kills by Lindow, a kill by Albright and three kills by Hanson pulled the Tigers to within 11-10. MCC led 13-10 when four kills by Lindow, a kill by Hanson, an ace serve by Allman and a kill by Feder gave the Tigers a 20-16 edge. The Saints used three kills by Kelli Strandlund to claim a 22-21 lead. Hanson tied the set with a kill, but MCC used kills by Laura Sutherland and Karli Zinnecker to even the match.

The Tigers regained their composure and used two kills by Hanson and four errors to claim a quick 6-2 lead. Kills by Walters and Hanson made it 8-4 before MCC used two kills and an ace serve by Sutherland to take an 11-10 lead. Feder and Lindow had kills for the Tigers during that stretch. Both teams exchanged errors before kills by Sutherland and Lisi Arnstrom ended the match.

Hanson had 21 kills, Lindow had 17 kills and Allman had 42 set assists and 22 digs to lead the Tigers, who had 53 kills and 90 digs to go along with 11 service errors and 26 attack errors in the match.

Sutherland finished with 21 kills, Strandlund had 16 kills, Steph Rohwer had 42 set assists and Bertsch had six ace serves to lead the Saints, who improved to 27-6. MCC had 53 kills and 70 digs to go along with 27 attack errors and seven service errors.

"Both teams fought hard till the end. It just happened to go their way that night," said Hanson. "It's a match up where on any given night either team could have come out on top. That's the caliber of the state tournament. All the teams have earned their way there because they're tough to beat."

Tigers rally to defeat GFW

After dropping the first set to G-F-W, the Tigers controlled the next three sets to advance to the consolation title match.

Four kills by Hanson, three kills and an ace serve by Lindow, three kills by Feder and a kill and ace serve by Walters gave Nevis a 16-15 lead in Set 1. With the set tied at 19-19, three errors by the Tigers and two kills by Lexi Platz gave G-F-W the set.

Two kills by Hanson, kills by Walters and Lindow and an ace serve by Allman led to a 6-6 tie in Set 2. With Feder serving, the Tigers used seven errors by G-F-W to build a 14-6 lead. The Thunderbirds went on an 11-5 run to close the gap to 19-17 before Hanson served out the final five points with an ace and kills by Feder and Lindow.

A kill and ace serve by Lindow and a kill by Hanson gave Nevis a quick 3-0 lead in Set 3. Two kills each by Lindow and Hanson kept Nevis in front 15-13 before G-F-W rallied for a 22-20 advantage. Walters had an ace serve and Hanson, Feder and Lindow had kills during that stretch. Kills by Lindow and Hanson, two ace serves by Lindow and another kill by Hanson closed out the set to give the Tigers the lead.

Nevis jumped out to a 7-2 lead in Set 4 behind five kills by Hanson. With Nevis leading 9-8, Feder served nine straight points as the Tigers built a 20-8 lead. Lindow had four kills and Walters had two kills during that span. G-F-W rallied to within 23-16 before a kill by Feder closed out the match.

Hanson's 23 kills and Lindow's 20 kills and three ace serves led the Tigers. Allman had 46 set assists, Feder had 20 digs and Walters had 15 digs and two ace serves. Nevis had 56 kills and 74 digs with 22 attack errors and 11 service errors.

Platz led G-F-W with 21 kills while Cheyenne Briese had 13 kills and 21 digs. G-F-W, which fell to 25-9, had 41 kills and 69 digs with 25 attack errors and five service errors.

"The girls bounced back rather quickly," said Hanson. "We wanted to play on Saturday. We didn't want it to be done. We wanted to go home with a trophy."

Tigers win consolation title

The Tigers almost had a replay of their quarterfinal match with MCC, but managed to pull out a dramatic win to claim the consolation title.

Parkers Prairie jumped out to an 8-4 lead in Set 1 before two kills apiece by Lindow and Walters gave Nevis a 14-13 edge. Parkers Prairie led 18-17 when a kill by Feder and four kills by Lindow gave the Tigers the early lead.

Albright served three points as three kills by Hanson gave Nevis a quick 7-2 lead in Set 2. Allman followed with four service points and three kills by Lindow pushed the lead to 14-6. The Tigers led 18-14 when a kill by Feder, an ace serve by Hjelseth, a kill by Hanson, a kill by Feder and an ace serve by Hanson closed out the set.

An ace serve by Lindow, four kills by Hanson and a kill by Walters kept Nevis within 10-8 in Set 3. Two kills each by Lindow and Hanson gave Nevis a 17-15 lead before Kendra Klimek served out the final nine points to give Parkers Prairie the set.

Two kills by Hanson and an ace serve by Walters led to a 4-4 tie in Set 4. Hanson, Feder and Walters had kills as Nevis trailed 17-12. With Parkers Prairie holding a 21-14 lead, the Tigers rallied behind two kills each by Walters and Hanson for a 24-23 lead. Two kills by Sari Noga helped Parkers Prairie force a deciding set.

Parkers Prairie led 3-0, 6-3 and 10-8 in Set 5 before a kill by Walters, an ace serve by Lindow and two more kills by Walters gave Nevis a 13-12 lead. Kills by Noga and Jazmyn Dorn gave Parkers Prairie match point at 14-13 before an error tied the set at 14-14. Parkers Prairie earned another match point, but another error tied the match at 15-15. With the set tied at 16-16, an error by Parkers Prairie and a kill by Lindow gave Nevis the win.

Hanson had 27 kills and 29 digs, Lindow had 18 kills, Walters had nine kills and 20 digs, and Allman had 49 set assists. Nevis had 58 kills and 102 digs with 37 attack errors and 10 service errors.

Noga finished with 22 kills and 21 digs while Jazmyn Dorn had 27 digs for Parkers Prairie, which finished with a 28-8-2 record.

"Being able to scout them the night before made the girls realize it was possible," said Hanson. "The girls had played so well throughout the playoffs and they wanted to go out with a win. It really felt good being on the winning side of a five-game match this time. Now there are about 3,000 more people in the state of Minnesota who know how to correctly say Nevis."

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