Randi Mehus and Aly Folz (#11) reach out to keep the ball alive as Aryn Jahnke looks on during sub-section win over Lanesboro
Randi Mehus and Aly Folz (#11) reach out to keep the ball alive as Aryn Jahnke looks on during sub-section win over Lanesboro
Sub-section volleyball action began with Spring Grove hosting a play-in match on Oct. 22. The Lions brought a No. 6 seeding into the tourney, while the visitors from Lanesboro came in at No. 11. Spring Grove won in four sets 25-18, 25-20, 23-25, 25-8.

On Thursday, Oct. 25, the Lions traveled to Harmony to face No. 3 seed Fillmore Central. In the first volleyball meeting with Spring Grove since 2008, the Falcons prevailed in straight sets, 25-12, 25-17, 25-15.

Lions versus Burros

It was the third Lion/Burro match this season, and the closest. Lanesboro was much more effective at the net the third time around, but Spring Grove (16-11) prevailed with better passing; setting up 25 more attacks and 13 more kills than did the Burros.

The Lions also held a modest 9-6 edge in ace blocks, and a slim 90-85% serving margin. They led in service aces 13-10.

Accurate hitting kept the Burros close this time around. Through the first three sets, LHS recorded better hitting efficiency (27%) than did Spring Grove (19%).

But the Lions would finish with 21% and LHS only 13% after the Burros' colossal collapse in the fourth set, in which Lanesboro had three times as many hitting errors as kills. LHS committed 9 of their total 15 hitting errors in set four.

Facing elimination, the Burros won their only set of the year against the Lions in the third frame. With Spring Grove leading 19-12, Lanesboro countered with their best offensive display of the match: 6 kills, 2 blocks and 4 ace serves.

Lanesboro earned the win, since only one Lion error figured into the Burros' final 13 points. Senior Libero Megan Kiehne served the final six points including 3 aces, and LHS won 25-23.

That's when the match headed south for Lanesboro. In set four LHS stats were turned upside down. After 9 kills and 3 hitting errors in the third set, the Burros managed only 3 kills while committing 9 hitting errors in the final set. Spring Grove won easily 25-8.

After a close start, the Lions had pulled away in set one with a strong service run by Aly Folz. The Burros did not mount an attack during any of her 6 straight serves while SG was expanding a precarious one-point lead into an 18-12 advantage. SG won 25-18.

Lion hitting was the least efficient in set two, in which the score was tied five times down the stretch. The Burros led 19-18 before SG scored four straight points behind 2 aces, a block and an assist from setter Addison Cross. The Lions escaped with a closing 7-1 run to win 25-20.

Cross earns 1,000 set assists

In what would be her final volleyball appearance in the friendly confines, senior Cross was honored before the match for surpassing 1,000 set assists. Especially noteworthy was she accomplished the feat in only two seasons.

Cross aired 31 assists while scoring herself with one kill, 2 ace blocks and 4 service aces as well as a team-high 10 digs.

Senior outside hitter Randi Mehus scored with 5 kills and 4 aces while serving 13 for 15. She dug 7 times.

Junior middle hitter Nicki Ellingson was again a force at the net with 15 kills and 7 ace blocks. Most efficient at the net was junior OH Folz with 6 kills and no errors. She also scored with 4 aces while serving 13 for 15.

Classmate Tara Solberg also played OH. She scored 10 times with 9 kills and one ace along with 9 digs on defense. Sophomore middle hitter Samantha Bratland served 21 for 23 with an ace along with 3 kills.

For LHS, Madison Ming had 7 kills while Kaia Hongerholt added 5 kills and one block. Kiehne served 6 aces in all - 3 to help LHS take a 4-1 lead in set two and then 3 straight aces to finish the Burro win in set three.

Quarterfinals: SG at FC

Fillmore Central hitters were on the mark, recording an efficiency of 37%. That's the best of any Class A opponent the Lions have seen this season.

Only Class AA Caledonia scored on a higher percentage of their sets. By contrast, the Lions struggled to finish their scoring opportunities, finishing with a 4% hitting efficiency mark.

Each team had almost the same number of attacks (SG 89, FC 90), but FC hit with more velocity for 41 kills to only 18 for the Lions, Each team also scored with 5 ace blocks.

KFIL-Radio Game Ball winner Taylor Case put away 13 kills and blocked for 2 more points along with 2 service aces for a total of 17 points for FC. Victoria Peterson had 10 kills and served 2 aces while Leah Scheevel added 8 kills.

The KFIL Players of the Match were the two setters. The Falcons' Morgan Malley had 30 set assists while scoring with 4 kills and 3 ace serves.

Cross was the choice for Spring Grove. The senior setter had 15 assists while scoring with 3 kills, 2 blocks and 2 ace serves.

Ellingson led Lion scoring with 10 kills and 2 ace blocks. Also with more kills than errors was Mehus with 3 kills while also serving 10 for 10 with an ace.

The Lions put the ball in play well, serving 91%, but had one more misfire (4) than aces (3). FC served 92% with 8 aces and 6 errors.

Spring Grove did not lead in any of the three sets. In the first frame, FC broke a 7-7 tie with a four-point run. Another four-point run was followed by a closing five-point run to win 25-12. The Falcons recorded 15 kills with only one hitting error.

In set two, Lion hitting was the best of the match (8 kills, 3 errors), but couldn't equal FC's 13 kills and only 2 errors. The Falcons also displayed some accurate, aggressive serving, scoring 5 of their 8 total aces during the second set.

In set three, FC broke a 5-5 tie with a five-point run and would win by 10 (25-15).

The last time these teams met, the Lions defeated the Falcons in a 2008 regular season tourney 2-0. The talented Falcons will graduate only one senior.

Mabel-Canton (ranked No. 7 in state polls) defeated FC two days later and will face top seed Wabasha-Kellogg for the sub-section championship. Section 1 is arguably the toughest in the state, with both the No. 1 and No. 2 Class 1A teams.

It was the final match for three Lions - Cross, Mehus and libero Aryn Jahnke. Spring Grove closes with a 16-12 record, its third straight winning season after going .500 in 2009.