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Volleyball: Patriots fall short in bid for section title

Pequot Lakes vs Sauk Centre in the Section 6-2A Finals

PL runner-up plaque.jpg
Pequot Lakes volleyball holds the Section 6-2A runner-up trophy after falling to Sauk Centre in the section final 3-2 Saturday, Nov. 6, at St. Cloud Tech High School.

ST. CLOUD — History doesn't always matter when it comes to high school sports.

The Pequot Lakes Patriots volleyball team were swept by the Sauk Centre Mainstreeters in three games in a regular season match Oct. 18.

That win made Sauk Centre a favorite when the top-seeded Mainstreeters faced the No. 2 Patriots in the Section 6-2A final Saturday, Nov. 6, at St. Cloud Tech High School.

That wasn’t the case as the winner wasn’t determined until the fifth game tiebreaker as Sauk Centre triumphed 25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 20-25 and 16-14. The Mainstreeters advance to state for the first time since 2012 while Pequot Lakes finishes 24-7 overall.

“We had been on the road for three weeks, and played in a 32-team St. Michael-Albertville tournament the weekend just before we played a Monday night match at Sauk Centre,” said Patriots coach Christine Ganley. “We were tired and the most points we scored against (Sauk Centre) was 20. But today I told the kids I don’t think (Sauk Centre) changed much, but we did. We had fresh legs.”

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The rested and focused Pequot Lakes squad battled the Mainstreeters from the first point. The Patriots assumed a 14-10 lead before Sauk Centre rallied with six straight points. The Mainstreeters grabbed the opening game when a Pequot Lakes serve sailed out of bounds.

The Patriots rallied in the second game and posted the most lopsided score — winning by eight points. Pequot Lakes evened the match by scoring nine of the final 10 points in the second game.

Sauk Centre claimed a key win in Game Three by snapping a 22-22 tie with the final three points. Pequot Lakes didn’t give up and claimed the fourth game 25-20 by scoring four of the final five points.

The deciding fifth game featured a series of runs — the Mainstreeters scored six straight for a 7-1 lead before the Patriots rallied with seven straight to take an 8-7 lead. Sauk Center scored the next six points for a 13-8 lead before Pequot Lakes answered with the next five points to tie it 13-13. Both teams scored before the Mainstreeters clinched the 16-14 win with the final two points.

“That was not the same team,” Sauk Centre coach Jim Klaphake said of the Patriots. “They had more energy today. We knew (Pequot Lakes) was better than the team that lost 3-0 against us, and they sure showed it today. I think both teams were tired in the fifth game and that led to mistakes and scoring runs.”

After completing the clinching ace tip, an exhausted and emotional Victoria Jennissen sat down on the court with one of her Mainstreeter teammates.

“Sauk Centre gained so much momentum off their blocks,” Ganley said, “but our kids played great defense. They were tenacious in the back row. I’m so proud of them.”

The Patriots’ Maci Martini had 29 kills and 30 digs while teammate Ella Kratchovil had 20 kills and 26 digs and setter Abi Martin had 59 set assists. Martini, Kratchovil and Martin all made the All-Section team while Ganley was chosen section coach of the year and Pequot Lakes’ Jenna Anderson assistant coach of the year.

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Pequot Lakes 20 25 22 25 14
Sauk Centre 25 17 25 20 16

Pequot Lakes statistics:
Maci Martini 29 kills, 2 ace serves, 30 digs, 4 ace blocks, 2 ace serves
Ella Kratchovil 20 kills, 26 digs, 3 ace blocks
Joselyn Rinio 6 kills, 2 digs, 3 ace blocks
Grace Hoffard 4 kills, 4 digs, 4 blocks, 1 set assist
Camille haman 8 kills, 3 digs, 6 ace blocks
Morgan Larock 8 digs
Izzy Larsen 1 kills, 1 dig
Abi Martin 1 kill, 59 set assists, 2 ace blocks, 13 digs, 3 ace serves
Kelsi martini 2 set assists, 1 ace serve, 19 digs
Charles Sullivan 3 digs
Lauren Schultz 4 digs
PL: Finishes 24-7 overall.
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