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Tigers made run at another trip to state

Riley Hanson earned all-state honors after leading the Tigers with 543 kills, 264 digs and 100 blocks.

After qualifying for the state Class A tournament for the first time in school history last season, the Nevis volleyball team was looking to return to state this fall.

A close loss to Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in the Section 5A championship match prevented the Tigers from accomplishing that goal.

That was about the only goal the Tigers didn't achieve this season.

Nevis posted its best winning percentage in school history by going 29-3-2. Finishing second at the Class A Showcase at Bethel University, placing third at the Moorhead tournament and winning the Nevis tournament highlighted the season.

The Tigers opened the season with wins over Park Rapids (25-9, 25-8, 25-14), Bertha-Hewitt (25-16, 25-23, 27-25), Menahga (25-9, 25-16, 25-17), Pine River-Backus (30-28, 25-18, 23-25, 25-9), Verndale (25-7, 25-11, 25-17) and Northland Remer (25-23, 25-13, 25-16).

At the Class A Showcase, the Tigers defeated Parkers Prairie (25-10, 25-19) and Southwest Christian (25-14, 25-19), split sets with Buffalo Lake (24-26, 25-19), and defeated Lake of the Woods (23-25, 25-6, 15-11) and Canby (25-18, 21-25, 15-12) to reach the championship match. Mayer Lutheran won the title with a 26-24, 25-19 win over Nevis.

Five 3-0 wins followed as the Tigers defeated Clearbrook-Gonvick (25-13, 25-10, 25-5), Cass Lake-Bena (25-11, 25-9, 25-12), Blackduck (25-10, 25-7, 25-13), Laporte (25-5, 25-8, 25-14) and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (25-19, 25-18, 25-10).

At the Nevis tournament, the Tigers opened with a 25-12, 23-25 tie with Long Prairie-Grey Eagle before defeating Cass Lake-Bena (25-14, 25-20), Sebeka (25-20, 25-13), PR-B (25-14, 25-10), Park Rapids (25-12, 25-14) and LP-GE (25-9, 25-22) to claim the title.

Nevis defeated Kelliher-Northome (25-11, 25-15, 25-12), Lake of the Woods (16-25, 25-18, 27-25, 25-17) and Sebeka (25-20, 28-26, 25-12) before placing third at Moorhead with wins over Litchfield (26-24, 25-16) and Osseo (25-23, 20-25, 15-10), a loss to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (25-15, 26-24), and a win over Duluth East (27-25, 25-22).

The Tigers received the No. 1 seed in the northeast bracket for the Section 5A tournament and advanced to the finals with wins over Onamia (23-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-20), Pillager (25-9, 25-11, 25-12) and East Central (25-19, 25-13, 25-6) before falling to B-B-E (25-22, 26-28, 27-25, 26-24) in the title match.

"We had one of our best seasons as far as winning percentage, advancement in tournaments and statistically speaking," said Nevis head coach Stephanie Hanson. "We did not get to state this year, but we sure couldn't have gotten much closer than we did. This team did so many remarkable things this year."

Leading the Tigers this season was the starting lineup of seniors Annessa Feder and Paige Walters; sophomores Riley Hanson and Katie Becker; and freshmen Megan Norby and Olivia Toft.

Walters, Feder, Hanson and Norby earned all-conference honors while Toft and Becker were all-conference honorable mention players. Walters and Feder also received all-state academic honors.

Hanson received all-state honors after leading the Tigers with 543 kills, 21 solo blocks, 79 assisted blocks and 264 digs. Hanson served 64 aces and 190 points as a middle hitter. Hanson was named the team's Most Valuable Player.

Norby led the Tigers with 124 ace serves and 322 points and was second with 316 kills and 236 digs. Norby, an outside hitter, set a school record with 15 ace serves in a match and received the team's Offensive Player of the Year award.

Walters was third on the team with 174 kills while tallying 56 ace serves, 156 points and 230 digs as an outside hitter.

Feder served 27 aces and 135 points while tallying 110 kills and 221 digs as an outside hitter.

Toft led the team with 822 set assists as the starting setter and had 34 ace serves, 177 points and 109 digs.

Becker compiled 24 ace serves, 125 points and 131 digs as an outside hitter.

Also playing key roles for the Tigers were seniors Ashley Cain, Brittany Carlson and Amber Clark. Sophomores Mattie Hjelseth, Amanda Hass and Karly Drury and freshmen Melissa Stenberg and Jordan Walters also saw some varsity time.

Even though the Tigers have to replace their senior leaders, Hanson is expecting Nevis to contend for another state berth next fall.

"Our expectations are always to be our best on and off the court. Every team learns from season's past and we are definitely hungrier than ever after the loss in the section finals," said Hanson. "The girls have a love for the sport and the drive to compete. We will have a strong team making a run again to be in the state tournament."