Panthers sweep by D-G-F in 8AA quarterfinal match
With the win, the Park Rapids volleyball team advances to face Roseau at Fosston on Tuesday night (Oct. 29).
Even though the Park Rapids volleyball team swept Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in a Section 8AA quarterfinal match at the Park Rapids High School gym on Friday night (Oct. 25), it wasn’t easy.
After coasting in the first set, the Panthers had to rally in the next two sets to advance with a hard fought 25-15, 25-21, 26-24 victory.
“The girls were ready to go for the match against DGF. We had a great week of practice where we worked on a lot of mental prep, tweaked and fine tuned a lot of their game play, and really had some fun,” said Park Rapids head coach Christine Sauer, whose team defeated the Rebels 25-19, 25-14 at the Perham tournament. “We had played DGF earlier in the season and I also went and watched them play against Thief River Falls earlier in the week. We felt confident in knowing what to expect from them, but also knew it was going to be a good game.”
Park Rapids, the No. 1 seed in the North half of the section, broke open a close Set 1 by closing with a 12-5 run. Three kills apiece by Rilee Michaelson and Kamree Carlson (who returned after missing six matches with an ankle injury) gave the Panthers a 13-10 edge before a combined block by Michaelson and Katelyn Weaver started the decisive run. Weaver served two aces during a 6-0 run as three kills by Michaelson extended the lead to 20-10. An ace serve by Michaelson and a kill by Kayleah Breitweser closed out the opening set.
D-G-F held the lead in the early going of Set 2 before the Panthers rallied. Ace serves by Kaylee Thune and Maria Watt and a 5-0 service run by Mariah Iwen gave the Rebels a 16-9 advantage. Carlson’s three kills, Michaelson’s two kills, a kill by Kendra Scholz and an ace serve by Weaver led Park Rapids in the early going. Kills by Scholz and Michaelson, a tip by Weaver and an ace serve by Katie Burlingame cut the deficit to 20-19 before three kills by Carlson and Katie Just’s five service points ended that set.
An ace serve by Weaver during a 5-0 run and four kills by Michaelson gave Park Rapids an 11-7 lead to start Set 3. Kelsey Rheault served three aces during a 7-0 run as the Rebels claimed a 14-11 edge. Carlson followed with two kills, but D-G-F still maintained an 18-14 advantage. Michaelson sparked the comeback by following a kill with an ace serve during a 4-0 service run that gave Park Rapids a 22-20 lead. Carlson had a kill during that stretch. Another kill by Carlson made it 24-21 before the Rebels tied the match at 24-24. A kill by Carlson ended it as the Panthers advanced.
Carlson’s 17 kills and Michaelson’s 16 kills led the Panthers, who had 38 kills with 15 hitting errors in the match. Weaver tallied 34 set assists and served five aces and 14 points. Carlson and Michaelson had 15 digs apiece as Park Rapids improved to 22-7. D-G-F ended the season with a 15-15 record.
“I was expecting a fight and good volleyball. DGF is a great volleyball program. They are incredibly scrappy and don't give up on the ball. It was fun playing them, because the girls played the scrappiest volleyball they have played all season,” said Sauer. “I feel the girls played well. They played with a calm, focused energy. They were determined to win at all costs and they worked hard. I was very pleased with how they played.”
D-G-F, the No. 4 seed, advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win (25-11, 25-7, 25-19) over No. 5 Thief River Falls on Oct. 23. In the other first-round matches of the Section 8AA North tournament on Oct. 23, No. 2 Hawley eliminated No. 7 Warroad (25-12, 25-15, 25-18) and No. 3 Roseau defeated No. 6 East Grand Forks (25-16, 25-10, 25-20). Roseau outlasted Hawley (26-24, 25-21, 20-25, 22-25, 15-10) in the other North semifinal match on Oct. 25.
In the South half of Section 8AA, No. 1 Pequot Lakes defeated No. 8 Pierz (25-18, 25-10, 25-21), No. 7 Fergus Falls upset No. 2 Staples-Motley (25-15, 25-22, 25-19), No. 3 Perham eliminated No. 6 Crosby-Ironton (25-13, 19-25, 25-15, 25-22) and No. 4 Little Falls defeated No. 5 Pillager (25-23, 25-18, 25-23) on Oct. 23. Pequot Lakes defeated Little Falls (25-8, 25-10, 25-15) and Fergus Falls eliminated Perham (28-26, 26-24, 25-20) in the South semifinals on Oct. 25.
The Panthers will play Roseau Tuesday night (Oct. 29) at 7 p.m. at Fosston with the winner advancing to the Section 8AA title match. These two teams played for the section title the last two seasons. Park Rapids defeated the Rams 3-1 (25-17, 20-25, 27-25, 25-16) in the season opener.
“I think that playing Roseau is going to be yet another great match. Yes we beat them earlier in the season 3-1, but a lot can happen over the course of a season,” said Sauer. “I believe we as a team have gotten better since the beginning of the season and I am making the assumption Roseau has too. We are both skilled programs. The team that will come out on top will be the harder working team.”
Park Rapids statistics
Serving: Carlson 9 for 10, Weaver 19 for 20 (5 aces), Scholz 7 for 10, Michaelson 12 for 13 (2 aces), Burlingame 8 for 10 (2 aces), Just 12 for 12.
Service points: Weaver 14, Michaelson 8, Just 7, Scholz 4, Carlson 4, Burlingame 4.
Attacks: Carlson 39 (17 kills), Michaelson 37 (16 kills), Weaver 8 (2 kills), Scholz 7 (2 kills), Burlingame 1.
Sets: Weaver 73 (34 assists), Just 7 (1 assist), Breitweser 1.
Digs: Carlson 15, Michaelson 15, Burlingame 9, Weaver 7, Just 6, Breitweser 2.
Assisted blocks: Michaelson 4, Scholz 2, Weaver 2.
Serve receive: Just 20 for 24, Carlson 5 for 6, Michaelson 10 for 12, Burlingame 9 for 12.