The season came to an end for the Barnesville lady Trojans on Friday at the Class AA State Volleyball Tournament when they fell to Belle Plaine 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-16).
Emily Smith (7 kills, 9/10 serving), Emily Riddle (6 kills, 7 solo blocks, 2 block assists) and Belle Peterson (5 kills) were the attack leaders for Barnesville. Rumley Biewer had 19 set assists, 7 digs, and was 8-for-9 serving with an ace. Amelia Newell was a perfect 15-for-15 serving with 3 aces and McKenzie Skogen was 8-for-8 on the serving line with a team high 16 digs. Sydney Strand and Kenadee Gray each had 8 digs.
Belle Plaine received 13 digs from Brianna Swenson and a dozen from Rachel Johnson. Johnson also had a team high 17 digs, while Brooke Burgemeister added 16. McKenzie Schwichtenberg dished out 40 assists.
Head Coach Megan Askegard of the Trojans shared the following thoughts about the State Tournament experience for her team.
Everyone tells you to make sure that you slow down and enjoy every minute of the state tournament experience when you are there. Well, we did just that! We took in the banquet on Tuesday night, followed by a team practice with a former teammate at the University of St. Catherine, and then spent a great part of the the trip having team meals and bonding together more as a team. Entering into the Xcel center is something that no one prepares you for. Checking your team in together through security and then the elevator ride down to the locker rooms is pretty amazing. The first moments that you come through the tunnel and enter the playing court, I reminded the girls to slow down, look around, and take it all in. To look every direction and just live in the moment. The match was going to be starting soon enough and I wanted them to just enjoy where they were and not be so nervous. It is surreal. There is a reason they call it the “Big Floor”
This was one of the years that we never really talked about going to the state tournament. The girls set other goals that I would say were a little more closer to home and attainable for them. 11 seniors with only 3 players gaining playing experience last year and seeing much time on the varsity court together is something very unique. As a team we hit our turning point after dropping a few matches early on, going 5 sets with Perham and coming out with a win, dropping a tough one to WDC, and then they said, “We are SICK of losing” This was their turning point. We traveled the majority of the month of October playing and winning some tough games on the road including the final match of the season to a tough Pine River Backus team who was also competing at the state tournament in class A.
The AA bracket was set with the top teams being seeded and then the bottom fill in with a random draw. We knew we drew a tough one right out of the gates, however we knew what we were capable of and that we can battle with just about anyone. The girls really did do just that. They fought hard for points and really executed the things we had talked about. Pequot Lakes had some big hitters, OH hitter Ella Kratochvil had 16 kils, and their middle hitter Grace Hoffard had 10 kills for the Patriots. We did a nice job attacking their open areas when we found our pass on the net and could come in running our middle attack that we have went to all season long. Belle Peterson did a great job on the outside scoring some kills down the sideline against the Patriot defense. They are a tough team and I thought we did serve receive pass them very well and hung with them for the 3 set match. We didn’t give up and fought hard for every point against them. They are the #1 team for a reason at the State Tournament. They would go ahead to play in the championship on Saturday against Cannon Falls where they fell in 3 sets to finish in 2nd place.
Our second round of the tournament we matched up with Belle Plaine Tigers who dropped their first match of the tournament against Concordia Academy. Moving into the second set we were hoping that some of those nerves from walking out on the floor at the Xcel for the first time is settling in a bit. The Tigers from Belle Plaine had a tough match the previous day with it going down to the wire in 5 sets. We watched them play a bit and kenw that they were coming with some left handed players on their team. We battled with them,however their strong attack from the right side was tough for our defense to defend. The found some holes in our defense and really picked away at a couple points at a time. We hung with them, we just couldn’t get over that hump and catch them. They had a couple strong middles and a tough outside hitter that really came with some power against us. We played too much defense in this set and needed to get our offense rolling. You could see as the match went on that our nerves and the thought of our season coming to an end was drawing near.
It’s a great experience for the girls, their families, and the fans from Barnesville. That’s what I am the most proud of, that these 15 girls for to experience this. It’s fantastic. It’s a memory and that’s what we’re about. High School sports is about creating memories with friends and families and they’ve had a great time at State.