The block was on for the Brainerd Warriors in the Section 8-3A Quarterfinals Friday, Oct. 25, at Brainerd High School.
And they needed it, too, as the No. 6 seeded Bemidji Lumberjacks made the third-seeded Warriors earn a 3-0 victory to advance to the section semifinals.
The scrappy Lumberjacks jumped out to quick leads in each of the three games only to see Brainerd regroup, gain the lead and then win each of the three games.
“Their defense was really on,” said Brainerd senior captain Delaney Schaeffer. “They definitely read a lot better than the last time we played them.”
Bemidji scored a 3-0 edge in the first game before Brainerd rallied for a 7-6 lead. A Karli Anderson kill tied the score 6-6. A Brainerd block handed the Warriors an 8-6 lead. The two teams traded points before Brainerd’s Gracie Rivard rattled off four straight serves to build Brainerd’s lead to 22-18. A Schaeffer tip and an Avery Eckman kill ended Game One in Brainerd’s favor 25-21.
“We did not play well at all tonight,” said Brainerd head coach Rick Kuehlwein. “I don’t know if they thought they were just going to win or something, but you have to give Bemidji credit. They kept the ball up a lot and they were scrappier than we were.
“We just need to clean up our ball handling. It might have been 10 days off that did it to us, but our practices have been intense. They’ve been good. We’ve been working serve receive all the time. It just didn’t show tonight. It was a game of errors and we made too many.”
Game Two ended with a bit of controversy as Brainerd’s Hala Davis floated her serve to the far corner where it was ruled in for an ace serve and a 27-25 victory. A Kate Stadum kill broke a 25-25 tie as both teams struggled to gain momentum.
Bemidji rushed out to a 4-0 edge and held a 13-9 lead before a Schaeffer kill regrouped the Warriors. A block and Anderson kill rallied Brainerd to a 13-12 deficit. It wasn’t until an Anderson kill and a Bemidji error that Brainerd tied the score 21-21. An Eckman kill handed Brainerd its first lead at 22-21.
A Bemidji service error and an Anderson kill pushed Brainerd’s lead to 24-22, but Bemidji tied the score at 24-24 and again at 25-25 before Stadum’s kill and Davis’ ace sealed the win.
“Karli Anderson came to play tonight,” Kuehlwein said. “That’s a big deal for us. Our block was good tonight and you know what? If we would have had a little bit better ball handling we could have done a little bit better job of giving our hitters more opportunities.
“Karli, that’s the best she’s done all season. We just didn’t ball handle.”
The Lumberjacks collected a 2-0 lead to start Game Three, but the Warriors rallied for a 6-2 edge behind Stadum’s serving, two Schaeffer blocks and two Eckman kills. Eckman finished with a game-high 13 kills to go with 11 digs and two blocks. Schaeffer finished with seven kills, five blocks and an ace serve.
“The block definitely helps us because it creates confidence in us in just how we play in general,” Schaeffer said. “It’s really fun to be on the block and be the one to put the ball down. The block gives us confidence.”
Schaeffer’s ace serve had Brainerd sitting with a 20-15 lead, but Bemidji rallied. Lumberjacks’ libero Jenna Anderson rattled off six straight serves to turn a 21-18 deficit into a 22-21 Bemidji lead.
An Anderson kill, her 10th and final of the night, created a 23-23 tie. A Bemidji error and another Brainerd block ended the contest with a 25-23 Brainerd win.
Brainerd’s Grace Peabody tallied 16 set assists, 12 digs and an ace serve, while Abbi Bohlen led the Warriors with 20 set assists.
“We’re going to have to play at a higher level,” Schaeffer said about continuing to advance through the section bracket. “We can definitely play better and we’re going to have to if we want to advance further on in the playoffs. We know that we can. It’s more about us just playing at the ability we should be.”
For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/342vuLh.
Bemidji 21 25 23
Brainerd 25 27 25
Kate Stadum 5 kills, 5 digs
Grace Peabody 16 set assists, 12 digs, 1 ace serve
Madison Genz 2 blocks
Abbi Bohlen 20 set assists
Avery Eckman 13 kills, 11 digs, 2 blocks
Grace Rivard 18 digs
Karli Anderson 10 kills, 3 blocks
Delaney Schaeffer 7 kills, 1 ace serve, 5 blocks
Warriors 3, Bemidji 0
Key: Brainerd collected 12 blocks
Overall: Brd 20-8, Bem 13-16
Next: No. 3 Brainerd at. No. 2 Moorhead 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29.