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High School Volleyball: Warriors hope to continue record-breaking year in postseason

After receiving one of the highest, if not the highest, postseason seed in program history, the Brainerd Warriors hope to justify that distinction in the playoffs.

Willmar, which defeated the Warriors 3-0 and 3-2 during the regular season, earned the top seed in Section 8-3A. The Cardinals have the 15th-highest Quality Results Formula in Class 3A while Brainerd is 18th.

The Warriors, who set a program record for wins this season with 22, received the No. 2 seed, which didn't surprise Warriors coach Rick Kuehlwein.

"I knew we couldn't be any lower but I knew we couldn't get any higher, too," he said.

The 8-3A tournament begins with four play-in matches Tuesday, Oct. 23. Winners of those matches advance to the quarterfinals Friday, Oct. 26, at the high seeds.

Friday, the Warriors will host the No. 7 Becker/No. 10 Monticello winner at 7 p.m. Becker is 14-11 and lost to Monticello 3-2 during the regular season. Monticello is 11-17. Brainerd did not play either team in the regular season but Monticello did finish sixth in the Warriors' Big Axe Tournament Oct. 13.

"We should beat them," Kuehlwein said of whomever the quarterfinal opponent ends up being, "but you've got to play. We're playing well when we're playing defense."

Kuehlwein said Moorhead is a team to watch out for in the section. The third-seeded Spuds are 18-9 and 21st in the QRF. Moorhead eliminated the Warriors 3-0 in the 2017 section quarterfinals.

"They're battle-tested because they go down to the Twin Cities and play the big schools," Kuehlwein said. "They lost nine matches but they've played some quality matches. They moved up in the QRF from the eighth seed to No. 3 (in the section).

"If we play like we did last week, we won't get out of the first round."

The Warriors ended the regular season with a heart-thumping 3-2 victory over Rocori. The Spartans lost to Brainerd 3-0 earlier in the season and are 9-18 entering the postseason.

Kuehlwein said the Warriors hope to scrimmage Pine River-Backus, ranked fifth in the final 1A rankings, Grand Rapids and possibly Park Rapids before beginning the postseason.

Brainerd's only other 20-win season was 1991 when it finished 20-5 and lost in its only section final appearance.

Here's a look at sections involving area teams.

Section 5-1A

PR-Backus, a 1A state tournament entrant in 2017, is the top-seeded team in North B Subsection 5-1A. The Tigers open at home 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, against the No. 4 Walker-Hackensack/No. 5 Bertha-Hewitt winner.

Also in the North B Subsection 5-1A are No. 6 Pillager, which will play at No. 3 Nevis, and No. 2 Verndale, which hosts No. 7 Laporte. Both of those matches are Thursday, Oct. 25.

Section 6-1A

Wadena-Deer Creek is the No. 3 seed in the North Subsection Section 6-1A tournament and hosts the No. 6 Menahga/No. 11 Rothsay winner in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25.

W-DC finished fourth in the 2017 1A state tournament.

Section 6-2A

Little Falls is the 11th seed in West Subsection 6-2A and travels to No. 6 Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted for the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25. No. 14 Pierz is at No. 3 Annandale in the West 6-2A quarterfinals the same night.

Section 7-2A

Aitkin is seeded sixth in Subsection 1, Section 7-2A and plays at No. 3 Duluth Marshall in the opening round at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24.

Section 8-2A

Crosby-Ironton is the seventh seed and travels to No. 2 Pequot Lakes in the South Subsection 8-2A quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25.

No. 5 Staples-Motley is at No. 4 Detroit Lakes in the South 8-2A quarterfinals the same night.

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