Head coach Heidi Wormley appreciated the way the Nevis volleyball team battled this season.

The Tigers duplicated last year's win total by posting a 19-10 overall record, ending the season with a Section 5A playoff loss to Rush City for the second year in a row.

"This team followed up last year's 19-11 season with a 19-10 record," said Wormley. "Our players can be really proud of their effort this year as most teams would take 19 wins on any given year. Every season has its ups and downs and in the end making it to the same match in the playoffs against the same team will all that this team dealt with in regard to injuries in itself an accomplishment to be proud of."

After opening the season with a 3-0 win (25-17, 25-20, 25-19) win over Menahga, the Tigers dropped back-to-back matches to Park Rapids (28-30, 25-19, 25-17, 25-10) and Pine River-Backus (25-18, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20 in the Northland Conference opener). Nevis then went 3-1 at the Becker tournament with wins over Minneapolis Washburn (25-13, 25-16) and West Lutheran (25-13, 25-15), a loss to Becker (21-25, 25-22, 15-10) and another win over Washburn (25-21, 25-18).

Wins over Wadena-Deer Creek (25-23, 25-23, 25-21), Verndale (25-22, 20-25, 25-14, 25-17) and Blackduck (25-11, 25-12, 25-2 in another conference match) were followed by a 2-2 showing at the Duluth East tournament with a loss to Brainerd (22-25, 25-22, 15-10), wins over Aalumet (25-13, 23-25, 15-8) and Esko (25-1, 25-17) and a loss to Princeton (25-18, 23-25, 15-7).

The Tigers closed out conference play with wins over Laporte (25-14, 25-10, 25-15), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (25-10, 25-19, 25-15), Kelliher-Northome (25-13, 25-14, 25-7), Cass Lake-Bena (25-10, 25-16, 25-6) and Clearbrook-Gonvick (25-12, 25-11, 25-15). Pine River-Backus went 7-0 to claim the Northland Conference title, ending the Tigers' 11-year run as conference champs. Nevis finished at 6-1 while W-H-A (5-2), Laporte (3-4), Clearbrook-Gonvick (3-4), Blackduck (2-5), Kelliher-Northome (1-6) and Cass Lake-Bena (1-6) followed.

A pair of 3-0 wins over Hill City (25-13, 25-21, 25-18) and Sebeka (25-19, 25-23, 25-16) and a loss to Pequot Lakes (24-26, 25-21, 25-10, 25-19) were followed by a 1-3 effort at the Moorhead Pumpkin Classic as the Tigers lost to Roseville (25-12, 26-24) and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (26-24, 25-17), defeated Duluth East (25-20, 25-20) and lost to Spring Lake Park (25-23, 23-25, 18-16).

Going 17-9 during the regular season gave Nevis the No. 3 seed in the Section 5A North B bracket. The Tigers opened section play with 3-0 wins over No. 6 Pillager (25-15, 25-13, 25-15) and No. 2 Verndale (25-20, 25-22, 25-22) before seeing the season end with a 25-20, 25-21, 25-22 loss to Rush City (the No. 1 seed in the North A bracket) in a section quarterfinal match.

Leading the Tigers this season were seniors Andrea Dudley, Ashley Pyburn and Jessica Swanda; juniors Kia Heide, Cole Mastley, Cora Umthun and Jayden Vredenburg; sophomores Carol Keezer and Sadie Thurner; freshmen Maggie Carrier, Makenna Frazier and Ava Isaacson; and eighth grader Liddy DeWulf.

Pyburn and Frazier received all-conference honors while Mastley, Umthun and Carrier earned all-conference honorable mention honors. Team awards went to Heide (Heart of a Champion), Carrier (Spirit), Pyburn (Miss Defense and Green and Gold), Mastley (The Glue), Isaacson (Best Offensive Utility Player), Umthun (Best Utility Player) and Frazier (Rookie of the Year).

Dudley led the Tigers with 658 set assists while adding 211 digs, 83 kills, 22 blocks and 14 service aces in 29 matches.

Pyburn was Nevis' leader in kills (276) and service aces (45) while contributing 54 blocks and 209 digs in 29 matches as a middle hitter.

Swanda played in 28 matches as a middle hitter and tallied a team-high 57 blocks while adding 158 kills, 36 digs and 12 service aces.

Heide had 229 kills, 81 digs, 32 blocks and 24 ace serves in 29 matches as an outside hitter.

Mastley played in 18 matches as an outside hitter and had 25 kills, 20 digs and 18 blocks.

Umthun served as a defensive specialist in 27 matches, compiling 93 digs and 35 ace serves.

Thurner also was a defensive specialist who led the team with 333 digs while adding 32 service aces and 17 kills in 29 matches.

Carrier played in 27 matches and tallied 137 digs as a defensive specialist.

Frazier contributed 92 digs, 84 kills, 28 blocks and 12 ace serves in 28 matches as an outside hitter.

Vredenburg (13 matches), Keezer (14 matches), Isaacson (12 matches) and DeWulf (six matches) filled in at outside hitter.

"We were very close to taking that next step this season. Some of our proudest moments were seeing many of our athletes elevating their skills and bringing their team with them. Having everyone reaching this new level together at the same time is the next step," said Wormley. "As a program, we will truly miss our seniors. These three have been a huge part of Nevis volleyball and it will be a tall task to fill the hitting, setting and blocking void with their graduation. Our program is strong. Luckily we keep restocking. We'll start the process of looking to see who will step up for us next year."

Nevis statistics

Service aces: Pyburn 45, Umthun 35, Thurner 32, Heide 24, Dudley 14, Frazier 12, Swanda 12, Carrier 7, Vredenburg 2, Mastley 1, Keezer 1.

Kills: Pyburn 276, Heide 229, Swanda 158, Frazier 84, Dudley 83, Mastley 25, Thurner 17, Isaacson 13, Keezer 6, Umthun 3, DeWulf 1.

Set assists: Dudley 658, Pyburn 34, Umthun 33, Heide 29, Mastley 26, Frazier 17, Swanda 17, Thurner 15, Carrier 12, Isaacson 3, Keezer 2, Vredenburg 1.

Blocks (solo-assists): Swanda 9-48, Pyburn 7-47, Heide 2-26, Frazier 1-27, Dudley 0-22, Mastley 0-18, Isaacson 0-6, Keezer 0-1, Thurner 0-1, Umthun 0-1.

Digs: Thurner 333, Dudley 211, Pyburn 209, Carrier 137, Umthun 93, Frazier 92, Heide 81, Swanda 36, Mastley 20, Keezer 14, Isaacson 8, Vredenburg 6, DeWulf 2.