The Lady Wolves may have lost the Northland Conference title to Pine River-Backus, but they had the last word when they beat the top-seeded Tigers in four sets Thursday night in Little Falls.
Saturday night the Wolves face Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa with a trip to the State Class A Volleyball Tournament on the line.
The Wolves, who came into the Pine River match as the No. 2 seed in the Section 5A North B with a 23-6 mark, got off to a great start. After jumping out to a 13-2 lead, they took the first set 25-11, and followed by taking the second 25-20.
Pine River, who had a 28-3 record, took the third 25-18, but the Wolves responded by easily taking the fourth 25-16.
Coach Bonnie Sea said the Wolves continued their unselfish play and responded with their best performance of the season, using a five-set loss just a couple of weeks ago to motivate them.
“The girls knew what we had to do to beat them. The girls executed everything we worked on. They blocked where they needed to block, read the hitters when we pulled our defense back, and when they tipped we picked all of them up,” Sea said. “The performance was unbelievable. It was like watching a drawing board. The girls were all exactly where they needed to be.”
Sea the biggest turnaround from the loss Oct. 14, was the girls’ aggressive play, because they know when they play well they’re playing aggressive..
In the third set, with WHA trailing by a lot, Sea told them during a time out that if they continue being intimidated, they will lose. “Why don’t we at least lose being aggressive. It’s OK to lose, but you have to play aggressive. They’re not going to give it to you. You have to work for it,” the coach said. “So we went out and we changed the score. Results happen.”
The Wolves dominated nearly every stat. They served at 93 percent compared to 86 percent. WHA also had 86 digs to 64, only 34 errors to Pine River’s 39, and 51 assists to 34.
Megan Benjamin recorded 20 kills, Katie Sagen put down 13, Aleah Tabbert had nine, Bri Raddatz four, and Kali Oelschlager and Abi Strandlie both had three. Raddatz finished with 40 assists.
Those perfect on serve were Benjamin (17 attempts), Rachel Pitt (15) and Ally Sea (12), while Oelschlager (12) only missed one. Raddatz had four ace serves and Benjamin three.
Benjamin also had one solo block and three assists, while Tabbert had one solo. Oelschlager and Raddatz each assisted on two blocks.
Leading the team in digs were Sea with 24, Raddatz had 17, Lizzie Naugle 14 and Benjamin 13.
WHA swept into the North finals with a three-set win over North A No. 1 seed Rush City two nights earlier. The Wolves got off to a great start and never let up, winning 25-20, 25-17 and 25-19.