ST. PAUL — You have to beat the best if you want to be the best and the Grand Rapids High School volleyball team knows that full well.
The coaching staff and players knew that No. 1 seed Marshall – a team that lost just six sets all season – was the favorite to win the tournament and rightly so. But the Thunderhawks gave Marshall a run for its money before falling in the semifinals of the Minnesota Class AAA State Volleyball Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Friday morning.
With the loss, the Thunderhawks played in the third place game at the state tournament on Friday. Results of that match were not available as the Herald-Review went to press and will be included in the Wednesday, Nov. 16 edition.
Marshall, the defending state champion, showed just how good it is as it defeated Grand Rapids 3-0, 25-18, 25-18, 25-19. The Thunderhawks were in each game until Marshall took over late to pull away for the victories.
In game No. 1, Marshall jumped out to a 10-3 advantage before Grand Rapids fought back with a service ace by Kyra Giffen bringing the Thunderhawks to within 11-7. The game went back and forth with Thunderhawk Peyton Skelly knocking down a kill to pull Grand Rapids to within 18-17. But that was as close as the Thunderhawks would get as Marshall ran off seven of the final eight points with a Grand Rapids hitting error ending the game.
In game No. 2, Marshall jumped out again with a 10-4 advantage but the Thunderhawks managed to pull to within two points at 18-16 on a service ace by Colby LaPlant. But again Marshall pulled away in the late stages as it scored seven of the final nine points to take the 25-18 win.
As in the first two games, Marshall again exploded out to a 10-4 advantage only to see Grand Rapids close to within 18-16 on a Giffen kill. But yet again Marshall pulled away late, scoring seven of the final 10 points to win the game and the match 25-19.
Randi Wendorff led Marshall with 11 kills and a .321 attack percentage while Leah Jones had 10 kills and nine digs. Brielle Riess had nine kills and a block while Lauren Wherry recorded one kill, 32 set assists, two ace serves and 10 digs. Drake Kenned had four service aces while Caitlyn Christenson had three set assists and 27 digs.
Braya LaPlant finished with four kills, 21 set assists, two ace serves, nine digs and one block for Grand Rapids while Giffen had six kills, three set assists, one service ace, 12 digs and a block. Olivia Mustar recorded one kill, one service ace and eight digs, Colby LaPlant had one service ace, Lindsey Racine compiled one set assist, one service ace and 22 digs, Josie Hanttula had five kills, one service ace and 10 digs, Haylee Finckbone finished with two kills, Kate Jamtgaard had six kills, one service ace and two digs, and Skelly had four kills , one set assist and one dig.
With the loss, Grand Rapids is 25-5 on the season.
Grand Rapids 3
The Thunderhawks rocked and rolled in quarterfinal action on Wednesday as they beat Mahtomedi – a team that defeated Grand Rapids in a tournament earlier in the season – by a 3-0 score.
Grand Rapids was in control the entire way with a 3-0, 25-16, 25-17, 25-19 victory.
In game No. 1, the Thunderhawks jumped out to a 5-0 lead assisted by two kills by Kate Jamtgaard. Grand Rapids then extended that lead to 10-3 and 15-7 after a kill by Haylee Finckbone. The Thunderhawks then rolled to the victory, using a service ace from Braya LaPlant to close out the 25-16 win.
Game No. 2 was much different as Mahtomedi played its best volleyball of the match early in this game. The game was tied at 10-10 before Mahtomedi scored seven of the next 11 points to take a 17-14 advantage.
But Grand Rapids bit back in a big way running off the final 11 points. A kill by Kyra Giffen, an ace serve from Jamtgaard and a hitting error by Mahtomedi tied the game at 17-17. Kills by Giffen and LaPlant along with two more service aces by Jamtgaard put the Thunderhawks ahead 21-17. Two kills by Giffen and another by Peyton Skelly put Grand Rapids at game point and Jamtgaard clinched that with yet another ace serve in the 25-17 victory.
In the third game, Grand Rapids stormed out to a 13-5 advantage but Mahtomedi pulled to within 19-15. The Thunderhawks had a 22-19 lead and they closed it out in impressive fashion, using kills by Finckbone, Josie Hanttula and LaPlant to win the game and the match 25-19.
LaPlant showed her versatility in the match for Grand Rapids as the junior setter finished with four kills, 36 set assists, two service aces, five digs and one block. Senior libero Lindsey Racine – who recorded her 1,000th career dig in the match – had three set assists, one ace serve, 17 digs and she had a fine .933 reception percentage. Jamtgaard had her usual all-around performance as she recorded 10 kills, six service aces and three digs and Giffen had 10 kills, one set assist and 10 digs. Olivia Mustar finished with two set assists, one ace serve and 15 digs, Hanttula had seven kills, two set assists, two ace serves and 18 digs, Finckbone recorded 10 kills with a .529 attack percentage, and Skelly had three kills.
For Mahtomedi, Katherine Arnason had nine kills and eight digs and Elle Mustar finished with two kills, 16 set assists and 14 digs. Abby Bruggeman had seven kills and five digs.
With the win, Grand Rapids improves to 25-4 while Mahtomedi falls to 24-6. It will face Marshall, a team that lost just six games the entire season.