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Tigers bring home runner-up trophy

Nevis' string of come-from-behind victories came to an end as the No. 1-ranked team in the postseason defeated the No. 1-ranked team in the preseason for the Class A volleyball championship Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Bethlehem Academy of Faribault, which entered the state tournament as the No. 1-ranked team in the state and the No. 1 seed, defeated Nevis 25-9, 25-14, 25-8 to capture its fifth Class A title in the last nine seasons. The Cardinals were making their ninth appearance in the last 10 years, winning the state title in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2001 while finishing as the state runner-up in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Meanwhile, The Tigers - who were ranked No.1 in the preseason poll and No. 8 in the final state poll - were unseeded in their second appearance in the state tournament.

The Tigers' never-give-up attitude led Nevis to its first state championship match. Nevis won the consolation title in its first state appearance in 2009.

In the Section 5A championship match, the Tigers trailed Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa before rallying for a 25-19, 17-25, 21-25, 25-8, 15-12 win.

Nevis continued that come-from-behind mentality in the first two matches at state. Mayer Lutheran, the No. 5-rated team in the state and the No. 2 seed in the tournament, built an early lead before the Tigers rallied for a 19-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-18 victory in Thursday's quarterfinals. Mayer Lutheran was making its sixth state appearance in the last nine years.

In Friday's semifinals, Minneota won the first two sets before Nevis rallied for an 18-25, 13-25, 25-14, 28-26, 15-13 win. Minneota was rated No. 6 in the final state poll and was the No. 3 seed in the tournament. Minneota was making its eighth state appearance since 2001.

The Tigers faced an early deficit in Saturday's championship match, but couldn't mount another dramatic comeback as Bethlehem Academy prevailed.

Leading the Tigers at the state tournament were junior Riley Hanson and sophomore Megan Norby. Both were named to the 10-member Class A tournament team. Hanson also earned all-state honors by being named to the state Class A team. The Tigers finished the season with a 25-10-1 record.

Tigers avenge loss to Crusaders

During the regular season, Mayer Lutheran posted a 25-16, 25-22 victory over Nevis at the Class A Showcase at Bethel University in September.

The Tigers avenged that loss in the state quarterfinals.

Led by Norby's career-high 27 kills, the Tigers kept their composure to advance to the semifinals.

Seven errors by Mayer Lutheran combined with three kills apiece by Hanson and Norby and a kill by Olivia Toft gave the Tigers a 14-10 lead in Set 1. Back-to-back kills by Norby extended Nevis' lead to 17-12 before Mayer Lutheran closed out the set with a 13-2 run. Ashlyn Hucky served four straight aces to tie the set at 17-17 before Norby recorded a kill. Three Nevis errors followed before Hanson's kill kept the Tigers within 21-19. Mayer Lutheran closed out the set behind a kill and ace serve by Nico Schmidt.

Mayer Lutheran kept the momentum going by jumping out to an 8-0 lead in Set 2 behind the serving of Jen Krentz and three kills by Schmidt. With the Crusaders holding a 10-3 lead, Nevis began its comeback with a 10-3 run. Five kills by Norby and a pair of kills by Hanson tied the set at 13-13. Each team exchanged errors as Mayer Lutheran maintained a 23-19 advantage. Kills by Norby and Hanson made it 23-22 before Mayer Lutheran faced a set point at 24-22. But three kills by Norby and a kill by Hanson ended the set and tied the match.

The Tigers faced another deficit in Set 3 as Mayer Lutheran claimed a 17-15 edge. Hanson and Norby had five kills apiece to offset four kills by Nico Schmidt and three kills by Rachel Schmidt. Two kills by Norby, a kill by Katie Becker, two service aces by Toft and a kill by Hanson sparked a 10-2 run as Nevis won the pivotal third set.

Three kills by Nico Schmidt and two kills by Kristen Mielke gave Mayer Lutheran a 12-7 lead in Set 4. Norby and Becker had kills for the Tigers during that stretch. Nevis rallied again by going on an 18-6 run to close out the match. An ace serve by Norby, three kills by Hanson and a kill by Becker gave Nevis a 17-13 edge. A service ace by Becker, a kill by Taylor Drury and three kills by Norby helped close out the match.

Hanson finished with 19 kills and 19 digs while Norby (15), Drury (11) and Toft (10) also had double digits in digs. Toft finished with 39 set assists for the Tigers, who had 51 kills and 24 attack errors.

Nico Schmidt had 19 kills and Krentz had 21 digs for Mayer Lutheran, which fell to 22-13. The Crusaders had 44 kills and 29 attack errors. Mayer Lutheran lost to Win-E-Mac in the consolation title match.

Nevis statistics

Serving: Becker 13 for 15 (1 ace), Toft 14 for 16 (2 aces), Hanson 10 for 13, Norby 24 for 26 (1 ace), Brown 1 for 2, Dierkhising 16 for 16, Gatewood 7 for 7.

Attacks: Becker 7 (3 kills), Toft 7 (1 kill), T. Drury 6 (1 kill), Hanson 46 (19 kills), Norby 65 (27 kills), K. Drury 2, Brown 1, Gatewood 1.

Set assists: Toft 39, K. Drury 6, Becker 1, Hanson 1, Norby 1.

Digs: Hanson 19, Norby 15, K. Drury 11, Toft 10, Gatewood 8, Becker 5, T. Drury 2, Brown 1, Dierkhising 1.

Solo blocks: Hanson 1.

Assisted blocks: Hanson 6, Becker 3, Toft 3, T. Drury 1, K. Drury 1.

Tigers rally past Minneota

Hanson and Norby had 24 kills apiece to offset the 49 kills by Taylor Reiss and Molly Hennen as Nevis rallied past Minneota to advance to the championship match.

In Set 1, kills by Toft, Hanson and Norby and an ace serve by Hanson gave Nevis a 7-6 lead. Minneota responded with a 13-5 run to take control. Three kills by Reiss and two by Hennen combined with five attack errors by the Tigers led the Vikings during that run. A kill by Hanson and three kills by Norby made it 24-18 before a kill by Hennen gave Minneota the early lead.

The Vikings kept the momentum going by jumping out to a 17-5 lead in Set 2. Reiss had four kills and an ace serve while Megan Larson served 11 straight points during that stretch. A kill and ace serve by Norby ended that run before a kill by Becker kept Nevis to within 21-11, but two kills by Reiss helped Minneota close out the set.

Two kills apiece by Reiss, Shelby Corbin and Hennen gave Minneota a 9-6 lead in Set 3. Nevis responded with a 19-5 run to win the set. A kill by Norby and three errors gave Nevis a 10-9 lead. After two kills by Hennen gave Minneota an 11-10 edge, the Tigers used four kills and an ace serve by Hanson and three kills by Norby to go on a 15-3 run. Minneota also made seven errors down the stretch.

Set 4 featured 16 ties before two errors by Minneota enabled the Tigers to tie the match. A kill by Norby, three kills by Hanson, and two more kills by Norby gave Nevis an 8-7 edge. Five more kills by Hanson and a pair of kills by Norby kept Nevis in front 16-15. An ace serve by Kate Dierkhising and a kill by Norby gave the Tigers a 19-17 edge before three kills by Hennen and a kill by Reiss gave Minneota a 21-20 advantage. Kills by Toft and Hanson gave Nevis a set point at 24-22, but the Vikings responded with three kills by Reiss for a set point at 25-24. Two kills by Hanson were followed with a kill by Reiss as the set was tied at 26-26. A service error and attack error by Minneota gave Nevis the set.

The final set was a repeat of Set 4 as both teams battled to 10 ties. A kill by Norby, a kill by Toft, another kill by Norby and two kills by Hanson gave Nevis a 6-5 edge. Three kills by Norby kept Nevis in front 10-8 before kills by Norby and Hanson gave the Tigers a 13-12 advantage. After Reiss tied the set with a kill, a kill by Hanson and an attack error sent the Tigers to the championship match.

Hanson and Drury combined for 22 assisted blocks while Hanson led the way with 16 digs. Becker and Norby had 11 digs each while Toft tallied 36 set assists as the Tigers offset 38 attack errors with 52 kills.

Reiss' 29 kills and Hennen's 20 kills and 22 digs led Minneota, which had 58 kills and 34 attack errors in falling to 27-7. The Vikings defeated Ada-Borup in the third-place match.

Nevis statistics

Serving: Becker 23 for 25, Toft 15 for 15 (1 ace), Hanson 13 for 16 (3 aces), Norby 16 for 18 (1 ace), Dierkhising 7 for 9 (1 ace), Gatewood 13 for 15.

Attacks: Becker 7 (1 kill), Toft 9 (3 kills), T. Drury 2, Hanson 82 (24 kills), Norby 57 (24 kills), K. Drury 4.

Set assists: Toft 36, K. Drury 6, Gatewood 2, Hanson 1.

Digs: Hanson 16, Becker 11, Norby 11, Toft 8, K. Drury 8, Gatewood 5.

Solo blocks: Becker 1.

Assisted blocks: Hanson 13, T. Drury 9, Toft 5, Becker 2, K. Drury 1.

Bethlehem Academy wins title

The Tigers couldn't overcome an early deficit on Saturday as Bethlehem Academy coasted to the state title.

The Cardinals took charge early in all three sets, building a 19-4 lead in Set 1, a 17-4 lead in Set 2 and a 22-7 lead in Set 3.

Three kills apiece by Maddie Borwege and Jessie Mathews, two kills by Lauren Mathews, and ace serves by Payton Schultz and Payton Nutter gave Bethlehem Academy a 19-4 lead in Set 1. Hanson and Norby had kills for Nevis in the early going. Hanson and Norby had two kills each before a kill by Schultz gave Bethlehem Academy the first set.

Hanson's kill kept Nevis within 3-2 in Set 1 before Borwege served five aces during an 8-0 run. Jessie Mathews followed with three straight kills as Bethlehem Academy led 16-3. Kills by Norby and Becker ended that run as Nevis trailed 18-8. Hanson followed with two kills and Norby had a kill as the Tigers faced a 24-13 deficit, but a kill by Jessie Mathews ended the set.

Mathews served Bethlehem Academy to a 6-0 lead before the Tigers responded with kills by Norby and Hanson. The Cardinals led 14-5 before two kills apiece by Jessie Mathews and Borwege and ace serves by Lauren Mathews and Daisy Jo Robinson sparked an 11-3 run to close out the set. Norby and Toft had kills for the Tigers during that stretch.

Jessie Mathews had 13 kills and 12 digs while Borwege had 12 kills and six ace serves to lead the Cardinals, who end the season with a 27-9 record. Bethlehem Academy had 36 kills compared to only 10 attack errors.

Hanson had eight kills, Norby had seven kills and Karly Drury had nine digs to lead the Tigers, who had 21 attack errors and 17 kills in the match.

Nevis statistics

Serving: Becker 4 for 4, Toft 2 for 4, Hanson 5 for 6, Norby 7 for 8, Dierkhising 4 for 5, Gatewood 5 for 5.

Attacks: Becker 4 (1 kill), Toft 3 (1 kill), T. Drury 1, Hanson 35 (8 kills), Norby 29 (7 kills), K. Drury 4, Gatewood 1.

Set assists: Toft 13, K. Drury 2, Hanson 1, Gatewood 1.

Digs: K. Drury 9, Toft 6, Hanson 5, Gatewood 5, Norby 4.

Assisted blocks: T. Drury 1, Norby 1.