PEQUOT LAKES — With only two days to play games before the Minnesota shutdowns, schools across the state are trying to squeeze in two more games before the 2020 season ends for good.
In the 8-2A South Subsection mini-tournament, the No. 1 seed Pequot Lakes Patriots knocked off the No. 4 seed Little Falls Flyers 3-1 Thursday, Nov. 19.
Lydia Hubbard led the Patriots with 20 kills to pace the offense.
Pequot came into the game undefeated and proved why by making quick work of the Flyers in the first set 25-11.
The Flyers grabbed the first two points of the set before Pequot made an 11-2 rally. After an 8-1 run, the Patriots led 19-6 which was their largest lead of the set before a Ella Kratchovil kill gave Pequot the win.
The Patriots picked up where they left off in the second set jumping to a 12-4 lead.
Little Falls rallied, and after a Taylor Jordan ace capped a 5-0 run, it trailed the Patriots 12-9.
It was all for naught. With Maci Martini serving, the Patriots went on a 7-0 run that ended in a block to win the second set 25-13.
“I like that they came out and were being themselves,” Pequot head coach Chris Ganley said. “They rose to the challenge. Little Falls put up a great fight and I’m glad my team rose to the challenge.”
Little Falls didn’t go quietly. They started the third set on a 6-1 run and after Pequot battled back to make it 11-9, the Flyers went on a 5-0 run to build their lead again.
Trailing 22-13, the Patriots tried to mount a late comeback to steal the third set, but fell short. Kerstin Knopik smashed one of her team-leading 11 kills to win the third set for Little Falls 25-19.
“I was very proud of the girls for battling back,” Little Falls head coach Carmen Johnson said. “Pequot is a very strong team, and I thought our girls started a little slow. I’m very proud of them for taking that third set.
“I think the balls really fell our way to start the third set. Then we were able to build off that energy. Volleyball is such a momentum sport, so when stuff falls the right way at the beginning then you play with a little more confidence.”
The Patriots dominated the fourth set. Hubbard smashed a kill to put Pequot up 9-1. With Ella Pfeiffer serving, Pequot went on a 9-0 run to lead 22-8 capped off by a Pfeiffer ace.
After a Kate Bolz-Andolshek ace, the Patriots walked away with a 25-9 win in the fourth set.
Bolz-Andolshek recorded 10 kills and 10 digs for Pequot.
“I was impressed with our courage and not letting down,” Ganley said. “They didn’t panic at all and that’s our senior leadership which has been fantastic. They were going to take that fourth game and I was really proud of them.”
Pequot hosts Perham Friday, Nov. 20, to finish its season. Perham was supposed to play Staples-Motley Thursday, but that game was canceled due to COVID-19.
“The biggest thing we have focused on is we have today,” Ganley said. “I wanted our team to enjoy every day of volleyball whether it was a practice or a game. I think it was hard on them, but they handled it the best they can and enjoyed their season the best they could.”
Little Falls was supposed to play the loser of the Perham/Staples-Motley game and thought its season was over at 4-3.
However, after the game, the Flyers were notified that they would have one final game against Zimmerman Friday at home.
“It’s just that roller coaster that’s been going on all year,” Johnson said. “I give the kids a lot of credit they’ve battled really hard all year.”
The news was good to hear for the Flyers team that had to deal with a two-week shut down of their own due to COVID-19.
“It’s been such an up-and-down year,” Johnson said. “I give these girls a lot of credit because they’ve dealt with a lot of emotion and a lot of psychological stuff going on within them. It’s been tough, but I think they are battling.
“I’ve got seven seniors. They are learning a lot about adversity. The message is you never know when the last game or point is going to be, so you always got to give it everything you got.”
For Pequot, it’s a team that was hoping to make a repeat run to the state tournament in 2020. However, a win over Perham would mean an undefeated season for the Patriots which would be no small consolation prize.
“One thing we’ve tried to do is to appreciate that we got to state last year,” Ganley said. “Had we not done that, I think it would’ve been terribly disappointing. But they had that as a part of their volleyball experience, and I told them ‘when you look back at your volleyball career you won’t remember one season you’ll remember it as a chuck.’ I think all teams are disappointed there won’t be a state tournament, but when you look at it the kids are resilient. I hope they created a lot of good memories despite the shortened season.”
Little Falls 11 13 25 9
Pequot Lakes 25 25 19 25
Little Falls statistics
Taylor Jordan 1 kill, 20 set assists, 7 digs
Sami Tembreull 6 kills, 1 set assist, 1 ace ser, 8 digs
Kerstin Knopik 11 kills, 1 set assist, 1 dig, 2 blocks
Isabella Dukowitz 1 digs
Chloe Laager 2 ace serves
Jayden Spillum 6 kills, 9 digs
Emma Holey 13 digs
Ellie Skeesick 4 kills, 1 set assist, 1 ace serve, 11 digs
Ellia Zimmerman 2 ace serves, 6 digs
Pequot Lakes statistics
Rita Ganley 27 set assists, 6 digs
Catherine Ganley 1 kill, 2 digs, 1 block
Camille Haman 4 digs, 2 blocks
Phoebe Glenn 13 set assists, 3 ace serves, 6 digs
Maci Martini 7 kills, 1 ace serve, 9 digs
Kate Bolz-Andolshek 10 kills, 1 set assist, 10 digs, 3 blocks
Lydia Hubbard 20 kills, 3 ace serves, 7 digs, 2 blocks
Ella Kratchovil 6 kills, 1 block
Ella Pfeffer 1 set assist, 3 ace serves, 16 digs
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.
Pequot Lakes 3, Little Falls 1
Key: Lydia Hubbard tallied 20 kills for the Patriots in their win over Little Falls.
Overall: PL 11-0, LF 4-3.
Next: Pequot Lakes hosts Perham 7:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20; Little Falls hosts Zimmerman 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.