Senior Mariah Rickard recorded 13 digs, but the Patriots volleyball team was unable to stifle a stiff North Branch attack in a 3-0 loss in the opening round of the state tournament on Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Patriots stuck with the Vikings throughout the first set, ultimately falling 25-20. In the second set, North Branch went on a 13-0 run to start, and the Patriots struggled to recover, falling 25-11.

“I was really proud of how we played the first match,” Coach Chris Ganley said. “In that second match, it got tougher as they got a little more aggressive with their serving.

“There is something to the fact that we haven’t been here in 25 years, so there was a realization of how big of a stage we were on, and our nerves got to us a little bit … It can’t be hard to work them off.”

The team somewhat rebounded in the third set — tying the score on several occasions — but fell 25-18.

“We knew we had to fight for every ball,” Rickard said. “We weren’t focused on (the score), and I think that really helped us in the long run … I think we just had to fight, and it was really good to see that after the second game.”

Kate Bolz-Andolshek led the team with eight kills and five digs, while Lydia Hubbard added five kills and three blocks.

Mirjana Ganley had eight digs in the game.

North Branch hitter Cianna Silbitschka dominated offensively for the Vikings, tallying 21 kills. She also had 14 digs.

“We had to put a big block up, knowing she had a good arm, was really smart and could hit super hard,” Bolz-Andolshek said. “We practice a lot of closing the block and pushing over, so we were focusing on that.”

The Patriots (27-6 overall) move into the consolation bracket, and will play on Friday, Nov. 8.

“It’s another day,” Ganley said. “For us to get to play competition like this … this gives the younger girls a chance to play competition that we don’t see, being further north. It sets in their mind ‘This is where we need to be next year.’”

Pequot Lakes 20 11 18

North Branch 25 25 25

Mirjana Ganley 2 kills, 1 set assist, 8 digs, 1 block

Maddy Morrison 1 set assist, 1 dig, 1 block

Ella Pfeiffer 2 ace serves, 5 digs

Phoebe Glenn 4 set assists, 2 ace serves, 1 dig

Kate Bolz-Andolshek 8 kills, 5 digs

Lydia Hubbard 5 kills, 3 blocks

Rita Ganley 5 set assists, 3 digs

Greta Harmala 3 set assists

Catherine Ganley 1 dig

Maci Martini 3 kills, 3 digs

Mariah Rickard 2 set assists, 1 ace serve, 13 digs