GAYLORD - There were times during Tuesday's Section 2A, North playoff volleyball match when Minnesota Valley Lutheran played as if BOLD wasn't even on the court with them.
However, eventually the lows outnumbered the highs for the No. 3 Chargers, with the No. 2 Warriors earning a 25-12, 19-25, 25-19, 25-20 victory to end MVL's season.
"We had some spurts of greatness, I would say," MVL head coach Sara Gieseke said. "When we hit the ball and were passing, we were unstoppable. Then there were times when we would throw out an arm and not really play smart volleyball, so we kind of dug ourselves a hole that way. But otherwise I'm so proud of the girls, they were just wonderful to work with all season, such great attitudes."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Sarah Burk (9) spikes the ball past Carly Sigurdson of BOLD during the Chargers’ Section 2A playoff loss Tuesday in Gaylord.
Both teams came out strong in set one, remaining neck-and-neck until the score was 7-6 in BOLD's favor.
At that point, the Warriors' Baylie Kubesh put on a show by pounding three kills and an ace block over a five-point span to help her team start pulling away.
A seven-point service run by BOLD junior Bailey Elbert that began with the score 16-10 in her team's favor and ended with a 23-10 margin all but sealed the Warriors' victory in the first set.
The Chargers rebounded with authority in the second set, winning the first five points in a row en route to building a 9-2 lead. The early run included two kills and an ace block from Sarah Burk, an ace block by Alexa Alfred and an ace serve by Mariah Stein.
The Warriors fought back to cut MVL's lead to 11-9, but the Chargers never gave away the lead in the set. The Chargers took advantage of some late BOLD errors, with Stein producing an ace serve on set point.
"I thought we had a good chance - I thought we could actually do it and keep going," MVL junior Rylee Weisensel said. "I think we played really well, and we fought for it."
The momentum in the third set belonged to the Warriors, but MVL kept well within reach during the entire set. However, the Chargers weren't able to produce the run they needed to cut into BOLD's lead, with the Warriors maintaining a lead of at least four points from the time the score was 8-4 until the end of the set.
MVL did manage to rally from 20-12 behind to make the score 21-16, but a service error coupled with a kill by Kubesh on a fake set - one of the many times Kubesh was successful with the play - ended the run.
The Chargers fell behind 14-7 in the fourth set, but countered with an 8-2 run that included three kills by Weisensel, a kill by Burk and an ace block by Alfred to tie the score at 16-16.
"We were pumped up," Weisensel said. "It's an awesome feeling, just fighting and being able to get back those points."
A kill by Alfred brought up another tie at 17-17, but a kill by Kubesh followed by back-to-back kills by BOLD's Taylor Ebnet gave the Warriors some separation.
A combined ace block by Carlie Maasz and Weisensel cut BOLD's lead to 21-19, but some late MVL communication errors and a missed serve by the Chargers on match point helped the Warriors finish on top.
MVL's four seniors led the way for the team, with Burk earning team highs in kills (10) and blocks (four), Martha Johnston notching a team-high 24 set assists, Allison Collum registering a team-high 17 digs and Maasz adding five kills and 12 digs.
"The seniors - even Mariah [Schoof], who wasn't able to play - have just been awesome," Gieseke said. "They're such great leaders out there, and they try their hardest in practice and during a game. They're such good role models for the younger girls."
"We couldn't have done it without them," Weisensel added. "We're going to miss them next year."
Also making top statistical contributions for the Chargers were Weisensel (eight kills), Stein (team-high four aces) and Rachel Olson (three blocks).
BOLD will face Springfield for the sub-section championship at 6 p.m. Thursday at New Ulm High School.
MVL ended its season with a 16-12-3 overall record.
"Thanks to all the family, friends and classmates for all their support - it's a big turnaround from the beginning of the season, and I think the girls should be really proud of what they've accomplished," Gieseke said.