ST. JOSEPH — All volleyball teams staving off elimination want is a chance.
St. Thomas More and Bismarck-Henning had opportunities to extend their seasons past Tuesday night’s Class 2A sectional semifinal matches.
But Decatur St. Teresa and Tri-Valley had other ideas.
Those two schools showed why they are two of 16 teams left in
2A and will meet in Thursday’s SJ-O sectional championship match.
St. Teresa held off St. Thomas More 22-25, 25-16, 25-22 in the second match Tuesday night after Tri-Valley swept Bismarck-Henning 25-14, 25-20.
“If you would have told me at the start of the season that we’d have just lost to (St. Teresa) 25-22 in the third game, I would have been pretty impressed,” Sabers coach Brad Dalton said. “We had the firepower to beat them. We just didn’t control the ball on serve-receive well enough to beat them.”
Sabers come close
St. Thomas More darted to an 8-3 lead en route to winning the opening set. But the Sabers (21-15) only led twice after that, both coming early in the third set.
“We came out the first game and were the aggressor,” Dalton said. “Then they got us on our heels. We were out of system the whole second game. We got it back here and there in the third game, but we couldn’t sustain them.”
Still, the young Sabers did not wilt against the high-powered Bulldogs (32-6), who will play Thursday in their fourth straight sectional title match.
Trailing 17-12 in the decisive third set, the Sabers cut it to 18-17 thanks to solid play at the net by junior outside hitters Regan Kelley (nine kills) and Courtney Wax. St. Teresa answered with a 6-1 run to go up 24-18, but again, the Sabers would not go away. Sophomore Lexi Wallen had plenty to do with that. The outside hitter, who finished with 16 kills and seven blocks, stuffed two St. Teresa kill attempts and then hit a kill down the line for three straight points to trim St. Thomas More’s deficit to 24-22.
“I told the girls in the locker room before the game I wanted to know where No. 7 was at all times,” St. Teresa coach Karen Wooden said in reference to Wallen. “Wherever she is, you find her and get the block. Unfortunately, we weren’t getting the blocks
like we needed to. (St. Thomas More) mixed it up a lot with the swings and tips to keep us off guard.”
Late injury hurts Blue Devils
Bismarck-Henning senior outside hitter Maranda Witty had just hit through Tri-Valley’s block to cut her squad’s deficit to 22-20 in the second set.
But Witty landed awkwardly on her right knee, causing her to come out of the match at an inopportune time for coach Susan Kentner’s squad.
Tri-Valley, which never trailed, answered with a kill by Vikings junior right-side hitter Sydney Stalter for a 23-20 lead. Two
subsequent hitting errors by
the Blue Devils closed out the match.
“I thought we were poised to really do something in the second set,” Kentner said. “She’s one of our top hitters. She goes down, and, of course, the team is upset and concerned. I think that got us a little rattled.”
Kentner said a diagnosis on the extent of Witty’s injury wasn’t clear immediately after the match.
“We made some adjustments in the second set,” Kentner said. “I really thought we were hitting just as well as they did. We were finding some open spots in the corner. I’ve got an experienced group. To their credit, they were not about to give up on the match.”