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Seniors spark Panthers' win over Cardinals

Senior Night was a success as the Park Rapids volleyball team defeated Staples-Motley 25-19, 25-14, 25-12 in the Panthers' final regular-season home match Tuesday night.

All eight seniors played significant minutes as the Panthers locked up second place in the Mid-State Conference standings with the win. Park Rapids ended conference play with a 4-1 record to trail Wadena-Deer Creek's 5-0 mark.

Staples-Motley, which ended conference play at 0-5, battled the Panthers in Game 1. A kill by Megan Norby, a block by Olivia Vaadeland, a tip by Jenny Palm, a kill by Hailey Lundin and an ace serve by Norby gave the Panthers a 9-6 lead. A kill by Lundin, two kills and a tip by Hannah Wolff, and a kill by Vaadeland pushed Park Rapids' advantage to 18-12. The Cardinals rallied to within 20-19 before a kill by Vaadeland, an ace serve by Shelby Weckwerth and a kill by Lundin closed out the game.

A block by Vaadeland, a kill by Norby, a tip by Lundin, a block by Wolff and Vaadeland, and a tip by Vaadeland sparked the Panthers to a 16-13 lead in Game 2. Norby then served eight straight points, including an ace, for a 24-13 edge. Vaadeland and Lundin had kills during that stretch. A kill by Lundin ended that game.

After kills by Leeza Tostenson and Wolff produced a 3-2 lead for the Panthers in Game 3, Wolff served an ace during a seven-point run to put Park Rapids in control. Norby had two kills and a tip during that stretch. Three more kills by Norby, an ace serve by Palm, and kills by Wolff and Tostenson pushed the lead to 22-10. A kill by Wolff ended that game and the match.

Norby had four ace serves and 11 kills, Vaadeland had seven kills and two solo blocks, Lundin and Wolff had six kills each, and Palm had 19 set assists and 13 digs as the Panthers improved to 15-9 on the season.

Molly Aukes' team, which ended the regular season with a Section 8AA match at East Grand Forks Thursday night, will open the section playoffs at home next Thursday night.