Sierra Hunter leaps above unidentified teammate for this play above the net in sub-section win versus Hope Lutheran. Also for Spring Grove are Kailee Bjerke (#15) and Jordan Anderson.
Sierra Hunter leaps above unidentified teammate for this play above the net in sub-section win versus Hope Lutheran. Also for Spring Grove are Kailee Bjerke (#15) and Jordan Anderson.
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In the opening round of post-season play, No. 8 sub-section seed Spring Grove used aggressive and accurate serving to down No. 9 Hope Lutheran 3-0 (25-13, 25-23, 25-17) on Oct. 21.

The playoff trail then ended at Preston on Oct. 24 with a 3-0 quarterfinal loss versus state-ranked and top sub-section seed Fillmore Central

SG vs. Hope Lutheran

The Lions (19-10) advanced to the quarterfinal round of Sub-section 1A East with the victory, while Hope ended its season on Spring Grove's new gym floor with an 11-13 record, including three losses to the Lions.

SG served with 95% accuracy including 14 aces and only 4 misfires, their greatest ace-to-error ratio of the season.

The Patriots scored with 5 aces but gave away 8 points with wayward serves. That 13-point serving margin compares to a more modest 44-40 scoring edge at the net.

Neither team thrived at the net with SG at only 8% efficiency (22 kills, 15 errors, 86 attacks) and Hope at 6% (21 kills, 16 errors, 77 attacks).

Hitters from both teams struggled early before establishing some rhythm in the final two sets.

SG won the first set 25-13 with the help of 8 service aces.

The Patriots hung around in the final two sets but only had a chance to win in the second.

SG had led throughout set one and stormed out to a 15-5 lead in set two before Hope hitters began to produce. An 11-3 Patriot run tied it at 23-all. But a Tara Solberg kill and a Hope hitting error ended the visitors' rally.

The Lions took an 11-3 lead in set three and went on to win by the same 8-point margin (25-17).

Leading the serving surge was Sammi Boyd at 21 for 22 with 5 aces. Solberg served 10 for 10 with 3 aces along with 4 kills and 9 digs.

Jordan Anderson served 12 for 14 with a pair of aces in addition to 3 kills and 16 set assists.

Nicki Ellingson served 5 for 5 with one ace and was the leading scorer with 8 kills and 3 blocks. Kailee Bjerke got on the scoreboard with 4 kills (no hitting errors) and 2 blocks.

Libero Lauren Arneson had her usual steady performance with 9 digs.

LION INDIVIDUALS

SET ASSISTS (18): Jordan Anderson 16, Samantha Bratland 1, Nicki Ellingson 1. KILLS (22): Nicki Ellingson 8, Tara Solberg 4, Kailee Bjerke 4, Jordan Anderson 3, Elizabeth Johnson 1, Aly Folz 1, Samantha Bratland 1. ACE BLOCKS (6): Nicki Ellingson 3, Kailee Bjereke 2, Samantha Bratland 1. SERVICE ACES (14): Sammi Boyd 5, Jordan Anderson 4, Tara Solberg 3, Samantha Bratland 1, Nicki Ellingson 1. SERVING: Tara Solberg 10 for 10, Nicki Ellingson 5 for 5, Heidi Buxengard 4 for 4, Sierra Hunter 1 for 1, Carrie Hagen 1 for 1, Sammi Boyd 21 for 22, Samantha Bratland 14 for 15, Jordan Anderson 12 for 14. DIGS (40): Lauren Arneson 9, Tara Solberg 9, Jordan Anderson 5, Heidi Buxengard 4, Sierra Hunter 3, Sammi Boyd 3, Samantha Bratland 2, Aly Folz 2, Carrie Hagen 1, Nicki Ellingson 1, Elizabeth Johnson 1

SG at Fillmore Central

Three days later, Fillmore Central was as strong as expected, dominating at the net versus Spring Grove. It was the second straight year the Lions' season ended with a 3-0 decision vs. FC in the Sub-section 1A East quarterfinal (25-11, 25-11, 25-17).

The Falcons, with only two seniors on the roster, arrived ranked No. 2 in the final Class A state poll, having held first or second position for the four previous weeks. FC improved to 30-2 with their only losses coming versus Class AAA Rosemount.

SG closed at 19-11, posting a fourth straight winning record and earning a fifth straight runner-up spot in conference play.

Lion digging and passing led to only 9 fewer attacks, but 19 fewer kills. FC hit with stellar 35% efficiency (41 kills, 9 errors), the best of any SG opponent this year. SG hit with 10% efficiency (22 kills, 13 errors).

Serving was not a scoring factor with 3 aces for SG (versus 3 errors) and FC serving 5 aces (with 2 errors). Spring Grove did serve well (93% accuracy), but the Falcons were even better at 97% - another season high for Lion opponents.

FC made few mistakes with no ball-handling errors and only 2 service errors while sending the ball in 74 times.

Despite diving efforts from Lion libero Arneson and others on the back row, the Falcon attack was often unstoppable.

Taylor Case was arguably the most powerful hitter the Lions have faced all year, scoring 20 of her team's 41 kills plus one block and 3 service aces. The senior outside hitter left with 343 career kills and was the KFIL-Radio Falcon Player of the Match.

The KFIL Game Ball Award went to Tori Peterson who had 9 kills, one block and one ace.

Ellingson led Lion scorers with 11 of her team's 22 kills (only 3 errors) plus 2 scoring blocks while serving 6 for 6. She shared the KFIL Lion Player of the Match honors with Solberg. Solberg put away 5 kills and served 7 for 7 with one ace.

Boyd and Samantha Bratland each served 7 for 8 with one ace. Bjerke scored with 3 kills and no hitting misfires. Anderson had 19 set assists, 2 kills and served 4 for 4.

The Falcons were nearly flawless in the first set (25-11) with only one error (on a serve). Amazingly, FC pounded down 15 kills with no miscues.

The Falcons' first hitting blunder gave SG a 1-0 lead in set two, but it ended as another 25-11 Falcon win.

SG was most efficient in set three with 11 winners and only 5 errors. But FC needed no charity with 20 points scored at the net (15 kills, 5 blocks).

The Lions fought to the end. With their worst start of the match (down 11-1 in set three), SG scored 7 of the final 10 points. The match ended appropriately with a kill by Case.

It was the final match for Lion seniors Solberg, Boyd, Ellingson, Heidi Buxengard and Aly Folz.

LION INDIVIDUALS

SET ASSISTS (20): Jordan Anderson 19 Sierra Hunter 1 KILLS (22): Nicki Ellingson 11, Tara Solberg 5, Kailee Bjerke 3, Jordan Anderson 2, Aly Folz 1, ACE BLOCKS (3): Nicki Ellingson 3, SERVICE ACES (3): Tara Solberg 1, Sammi Boyd 1, Samantha Bratland 1.

SERVING: Tara Solberg 7 for 7, Nicki Ellingson 6 for 6, Heidi Buxengard 4 for 4, Jordan Anderson 4 for 4, Samantha Bratland 7 for 8, Sammi Boyd 7 for 8, Carrie Hagen 2 for 3.

A very young Lion B-team had a 2-12 record with wins over LeRoy-Ostrander and Glenville-Emmons. The freshmen closed at 2-8 with wins against Schaeffer Academy and Glenville-Emmons.

All the eighth graders played up on the freshmen and B-teams, so the junior high squads were all sixth and seventh graders. In eighth grade games, SG was 4-5 with two wins over North Winn and season spits with Lanesboro and Houston. The record in seventh grade games was 0-9.

Sub-section 1A East

FIRST ROUND

(#8) Spring Grove 3, (#9) Hope Lutheran 0

(#1) Fillmore Central bye

(#5) Lewiston-Altura 3, (#12) Lanesboro 0

(#4) Wabasha-Kellogg bye

(#6) Rushford-Peterson 3, (#11) Schaeffer Academy 0

(#3) Goodhue bye

(#7) Houston 3, (#10) Kingsland 0

(#2) Mabel-Canton bye

QUARTERFINALS

Fillmore Central 3, Spring Grove 0

Lewiston-Altura 3, Wabasha-Kellogg 2

Goodhue 3, Rushford-Peterson 1

Mabel-Canton 3, Houston 0

SEMI-FINALS

Fillmore Central 3, Lewiston-Altura 0

Mabel-Canton 3, Goodhue 0

FINALS, Oct. 31 at Rochester Mayo Civic Center 7:30 p.m.

(#1) Fillmore Central vs. (#2) Mabel-Cantoon