Before the Section 8-2A Finals against Park Rapids, Pequot Lakes head volleyball coach Chris Ganley looked around at her team preparing for the biggest game of the season.
Ganley asked which one of them will push them over the top and into the win column. Her eyes locked with junior middle hitter Lydia Hubbard and she asked, “Can you do it?”
Hubbard responded with a “yes” and backed it with 21 kills and six blocks to lead Pequot Lakes from down 0-2 to win 3-2 and clinch its first trip to state since 1994.
“I could have said anyone’s name,” Ganley said. “But I just happened to look at Lydia, so I am happy for her she had 21 kills and definitely turned it on for us.”
Going into the game, Hubbard said the team wanted to win, but knew it was going to be a challenge going up against Park Rapids — a team they split with during the regular season.
“After we were two sets down, we knew we could do it,” Hubbard said. “It was just the mindset and we wanted it more.”
The 21 kills were impressive enough, but the six blocks Hubbard accumulated against Park Rapids helped Pequot stop Panthers rallies.
“We really focused hard on getting those blocks,” Hubbard said. “We tried extra hard to close the blocks and push over so our blocks did not get used.”
Hubbard also performed well in the North Subsection 8-2A Final against Fergus Falls and racked up 12 kills in the 3-0 win to advance to the section finals.
“Our team has really good passers and setters,” Hubbard said. “As the game goes on, it gets easier to see where the open spots on the floor are and it really helps to place the ball to score.”
Hubbard is only a junior, but has been a key hitter for the Patriots all season along with junior Kate Bolz-Andolshek. The teammates both have a unique skill set that separates them from their opponents.
“They have this camaraderie this year that I think, in past years, they were always friends, but it’s become a team mission now,” Ganley said. “And I like to see them having private conversations where they are helping each other. They really are a great duo.
“They also really connect with their setters -- Phoebe Glenn and Rita Ganley. They both work really well together with both of them and that team chemistry is important. This team has a lot of team chemistry.”
Hubbard knows she has a special connection with Bolz-Andolshek as well.
“Kate and I get along on and off the court and I know at practice we help each other by putting up big blocks,” Hubbard said. “We get to hit against each other everyday which helps us play better against other players, too.”
Ganley knows Hubbard enjoys the game and can see the passion she has for volleyball when she’s playing. The moments when Hubbard is at her best is when he can get hot for Pequot and collect multiple kills in a row.
“When she gets a big kill, you know, the whole team gets very excited,” Ganley said. “The other thing is she is a great athlete. She is a state track runner and she is a very good high jumper.”
For Hubbard, she thinks her best quality on the court is her vision.
“I think I see the court really well,” she said. “I can find the open spots on the court and hit it where they are not at the moment.”
School: Pequot Lakes
Highlights: 21 kills and six blocks in the Section 8-2A Final and 12 kills, one dig and one block in the North Subsection 8-2A Final