Grant County Herald
The West Central Area volleyball team has definitely been playing their best volleyball of the season at the right time. The Knights pulled off two playoff wins over BBE Nov. 2 and Underwood Nov. 4 in Fergus Falls. With the win over Underwood, the Knights won the Section 6A championship and qualified for state for the first time in the history of the program.
BBE was the top seeded team in the section and came into the match with a record of 21-7, but WCA came in with a similar record of 21-9, so it was a pretty evenly matched contest in the subsection final.
The Knights started the match off with a bang and jumped out to a 10-0 lead early and cruised their way to a 25-17 win in the first set.
The second set was the exact opposite with BBE jumping out to a 15-7 advantage and the Jags cruised to a 25-19 win to tie the match at a set apiece.
In the third, WCA trailed for the majority of the set and coach Melissa Foslien was forced to use her two timeouts early in the set. WCA trailed 22-15 and things looked down for the Knights, but Macy Grosz went on a service run to score 10 straight points to pull off the improbable 25-22 victory and take a 2-1 lead.
West Central Area did not want to mess around with a fifth set, so they did all they could to end the match in the fourth. It was a back and forth battle, but thanks to three straight serving points from Mya Foslien, the Knights led 23-17, forcing a BBE timeout. That break in the action did little to halt the momentum and WCA finished off the Jags with a 25-19 win to advance to the section championship.
The Knights finished the contest with 47 total kills and had three players with at least nine kills. Mya Foslien led the team with 21 kills, Izzy Puchalski added 11 and Madi Fagre added nine kills. Macy Grosz was running all over the floor setting up her teammates, leading the team with 42 assists. At the service line, Puchalski recorded the only ace for the Knights.
WCA played some solid defense all night long against the Jags. Whitney Westrom played some stellar defense, leading the team with 28 digs, Madelyn Westrom dug out 26, Mya Foslien chipped in with 23 and Grosz added 17. At the net, Puchalski and Jaclynn Nelson both had three blocks and Grosz, Fagre and Westrom all finished with one block. “We need to play great defense because we are short and the girls did what they set out to do, they earned our first banner in the gym for our volleyball program. I am so proud of their commitment to this goal,” head coach Melissa Foslien said.
The Rockets qualified for the Section 6A championship game with a win over the fifth seeded Hillcrest Lutheran Academy and came into the match with a record of 20-5. It was a battle of two seeds in the section finals, and it was a tight contest with all four sets being decided by four points or less.
The Knights came out and earned a win in the all-important first set. Both teams traded haymakers and WCA finally came out with a 25-21 victory.
It was another nail biter between the Knights and Rockets that needed more than 25 points to decide the contest. The Knights fell behind 20-15, but scored the next three points to make it 20-18 and finally tied the match at 23-23. WCA outlasted the Rockets to come away with a 26-24 win and take a suffocating 2-0 advantage in the match.
The Rockets would not roll over and hand the win to the Knights. Once again, neither team could secure much of an advantage in the third, but the Rockets did enough to force a fourth set with a 25-22 win in the third to make it 2-1.
The Knights wanted to do everything in their power to avoid a fifth set where anything could happen, so they put all their energy into ending the match in the fourth. The Knights played from in front for most of the set, but Underwood was always lurking not far behind. WCA was able to keep their nose in front and secured their first state berth with a 25-21 win in the fourth for a 3-1 victory. “It was a special night to see the amount of fans, family and friends there to support us and we hope to represent Section 6 well at state,” coach Foslien said.
The Knights fed Mya Foslien the ball all night long and she finished with 26 kills. Puchalski also cracked double-digits with 14 kills, Fagre added eight and Nelson chipped in with five. Grosz was all over the place again, dishing out 51 total assists.
The Knights finished with four ace serves at the service line, one each from Mya Foslien, Madelyn Westrom, Puchalski and Aliana Sykora.
On defense, the Knights were led by Mya Foslien with 25 digs and two blocks. Madelyn Westrom added 23 digs, Whitney Westrom had 18 digs and a block, Grosz dug out 16 and blocked one, Nelson had seven digs and two blocks and Puchalski finished with six digs and a block.
West Central Area will be back in action Nov. 9-11 at the Class A state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Knights earned the No. 5 seed in the bracket and will play the No. 4 seed New Life Academy of Woodbury at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9.