PEQUOT LAKES — While neither head coach was overly pleased with the play, both appreciated the atmosphere.
With the pep band blaring, the student body in full throttle and the rest of the stands respectably packed, the place to be Monday, Sept. 13, was the Pequot Lakes High School Gymnasium as Class 2A’s ninth-ranked Patriots hosted Class 4A’s Brainerd Warriors.
And while the play wasn’t what either coach was hoping as Pequot swept the Warriors 3-0, both hope the ruckus, pre-COVID-19 type environment will prepare them for later in the season.
“I think both teams were making some errors that weren’t typical of either of us and that was maybe because of the crowd pressure,” Pequot head coach Christine Ganley said. “It was a big game of the week. It’s a great rivalry so the kids feel a lot of pressure about the game.
“It was good that my kids were able to find the court because for a while we were giving away points to Brainerd and I’m sure they loved taking them.”
Brainerd head coach Rick Kuehlwein agreed.
“It was a game of errors tonight,” he said. “We got rattled a little bit and then we got taken out of the game a little bit because there were a couple of bad calls at the end, but you know what? You have to play through that. I yelled at them and it didn’t do them any good.”
Pequot’s Joselyn Rinio helped Pequot turn a 10-6 advantage in Game One into a 16-9 lead as she rattled off four of her 10 kills in that span. Then it was a series of service errors and miss hits before the Patriots secured a 25-13 win.
Brainerd jumped out to the early lead in the second set and built it to 11-8 with a Myah Nelson ace serve. Nelson added 12 set assists and four digs to her stat sheet.
The Patriots later tied it 13-13 thanks to four straight points. Hitters Ella Kratochvil and Maci Martini provided the offense.
With the score tied 19-19, Pequot’s Grace Hoffard clicked off five straight serves, including two aces and Maci Martini clinched Game Two for Pequot 25-19.
Martini finished with nine kills, 20 digs, three ace serves and two blocks. Kratochvil led the Patriots with 14 kills to go with four digs.
“We were out of system so much,” Kuehlwein said. “Hala Davis (who missed Monday’s game because of illness) is one of our main passers. She isn’t here. That hurt. You have to give Pequot credit. They brought it to us, but it was just our errors that killed us. It wasn’t their offense. It wasn’t what they did to us, it was what we did to ourselves.”
The early part of Game Three belonged to Brainerd as well. Kate Stadum, who finished with a team-high 12 kills and added 11 digs and one ace serve, put back-to-back kills down for a 15-13 Brainerd lead. Her ace was sandwiched between Meghan Smith kills to hand Brainerd a 17-13 edge
“We were making a lot of errors at beginning of games and Brainerd was taking advantage of them,” Ganley said. “Besides their good play, we were just giving them points. They were earning theirs and we were giving them some at the beginning of each game. That’s our problem to fix.”
Holding on to an 18-14 lead, Brainerd suffered two service errors and a number of hitting errors. To fall behind 24-20.
Stadum went for two more kills to climb to 24-22 before Kratochvil ended it for a 25-22 Game Three win for Pequot.
“I knew win or lose today, the crowd, Brainerd’s skill, their coaching staff, I knew win or lose this was an important match to play,” Ganley said. “We learn a lot when we play Brainerd. I consider Rick a mentor of mine because he’s just so good. He just is. He built up this Brainerd program and they are very good.”
Brainerd’s Meghan Smith added 16 digs and five kills. Pequot’s Abi Martin finished with 33 set assists and eight digs and Kelsi Martini finished with 13 digs for the 4-0 Patriots.
“We just didn’t take care of business,” Kuehlwein said. “We tipped the ball over so many times when we should have put the ball in the one zone or the five zone. We just didn’t do it. We were just fighting to stay in the match.”
Brainerd 13 19 22
Pequot Lakes 25 25 25
Kate Stadum 12 kills, 11 digs, 1 ace serve
Myah Nelson 12 set assists, 1 ace serve, 4 digs
Karley Dunham 1 kill, 5 blocks
Aden Yost 8 set assists, 4 digs
Meghan Smith 5 kills, 16 digs
Iyana Pickar 1 kill, 2 blocks
Pequot Lakes statistics
Abi Martin 33 set assists, 8 digs, 1 block
Camille Haman 2 kills, 2 digs, 3 blocks
Macy Jackson 1 ace serve, 1 dig
Morgan LaRock 3 digs
Grace Hoffard 3 kills, 1 set assist, 3 ace serves, 2 digs, 2 blocks
Maci Martini 9 kills, 1 set assist, 3 ace serves, 20 digs, 2 blocks
Ella Kratochvil 14 kills, 4 digs
Kelsi Martini 3 set assists, 13 digs
Joselyn Rinio 10 kills, 2 blocks
Charlee Sullivan 6 digs
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Patriots 3, Warriors 0
Key: Three Patriots finished with at least nine kills
Overall: Brd 5-4, PL 4-0
Next: Brainerd at Fergus Falls 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16; Pequot Lakes; Pequot Lakes at Perham 7:30 p.m Tuesday, Sept. 14