Exciting win over New York Mills
It looked bleak in the second set of the state tournament's opening match against New York Mills.
Minneota won the first set, 25-14 — but with New York Mills Karli Kawlewski and six-footer Madalyn Erp swinging hot hands, the Eagles had a 23-17 lead.
That's when the Vikings called on a little "intestinal fortitude," and came rolling back behind the serving of Lizzy Gillingham to score the final eight points of the match and claim a stunning comeback, 26-24.
"Coach just told me to serve so I took an extra breath and just hit the ball," said Gillingham.
Two of those serves were aces as Lydia Sussner and Natalee Rolbiecki stepped up and socked the ball to the ball to tied the contest at 24-24. New York Mills didn't do themselves any favors, serving the ball into the net.
Coach Hayley Fruin decided to leave Sussner in the game to serve, instead of bringing in Abby Rost as she usually does.
Sussner served, Rolbecki hit the ball and Minneota won, 26-24.
Minneota Coach Hayley Fruin said, “In the second set, we talked to the kids and knew they could battle back.”
After losing the second set despite a late six-point lead, New York Mlls Coach Tammy Olson said, “Our girls were a little bit stunned. But Minneota had really good passing off their sets.”
When they were down, Abby Hennen said, “When we started going down and they kept scoring, we knew we would have to get one pass and find a hitter and put it away. Their blocking was really good.”
Lydia Sussner added, “We knew we had been frustrated. but we knew we were good to go.”
After that, Mills Coach Tammy Olson said her players had, "The wind knocked out of them," and couldn't recover.
The Vikings rolled to a 16-1 lead as Gillingham served 13 straight points.
After that it was a matter of freshman Natalee Rolbiecki, Morgan Hennen and Gillingham claiming the net and knocking down the final points for a 25-8 win.
Sussner ended with 15 kills out of 41 attempts. Rolbiecki had nine of 20 kills and Gillingham ended with five kills.
In the back row, Abby Hennen roamed the floor like a prison guard and dug out 18 balls, with Gillingham adding 12 and Morgan Hennen 10.
After they fell behind in the second set, setter Morgan Kockelman went from 20 set assists for points to 29 — New York Mills couldn't recover.
As for facing the No. 1 team in the state, Olson said, “I think state in itself made us nervous. We got a bad draw getting the No. 1 team in state. But we need to think about the game and pass the ball.
Did they try and stop Lydia Sussner?
“We talked about her and how she runs her middle. Wherever she hit the ball it was hard. We also talked about the other hitters because they have others, too.”
NOTE: Three Vikings were named to the all-state team Wednesday night. They were: Lydia Sussner, Lizzy Gillingham and Morgan Kockelman.
•Coach Hayley Fruin, addressing the fact the Vkings, “Have a Target on our back,” said, “ We’re the No. 1 team but we have to play like that at all times. We need to go out and play at our level in all sets.”
SIDE NOTE: In the third set, Abby Hennen and sister Morgan collided going for the ball. They had words after that and someone asked, "What did you talk about?" Abby said, "Morgan wasn't bery happy with me." Calling the play and chuckling as it happened on Q-92 radio was Kelsey (Hennen) Buysse, Abby and Morgan's sister.
•New York Mills Coach Olson added, “It was a little bit eye-popping for us the first time down here. I expect tomorrow we’ll settle down.”
•“Today we got pretty good blocks (at the net) but we had lots of errors. We need to cut down on those down,” said Coach Olson.
•She added, “We played nervous and scared at times, but showed a lot of heart and grit.”
Minneota 3, New York Mills 0
New York Mlls 14 24 7
Minneota 25 25 25
KILLS: Minneota: Sussner 15; Rolbiecki 9; Gillingham 5; Morgan Hennen 4, Sydney Larson 3, Morgan Kockelman 2. New York Mills: Karli Kawlewski 13; Madlyn Erp 10.
SERVING: (Serve assist-Service errors) Minneota-Gillingham 8-1; Morgan Hennen 1-1.
DIGS: Minneota-Abby Hennen 18, Lizzy Gillingham 12; Morgan Hennen 10; Natalee Rolbiecki 6; Lydia Sussner and Morgan Kockelman 5 each; Ellie Pesch 4; Abby Rost 1. New York Mills: Kawledski 20; Harley Wurst, Annika Frost nine each.
BLOCKS: Minneota-Rolbiecki, Kockelman 1 each; New York Mills none.
SET ASSISTS: Minneota-Kockelman 29; Mills: Annika Frost 26.