May 28, 2024

WCA finishes sixth in state volleyball tournament

Isabelle Puchalski lays out for a ball for WCA in the consolation finals of the Class A state tournament against Ely at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Nov. 11.

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Sam Peterson

Grant County Herald

After the win over Pine River-Backus in the first round of the Class A consolation bracket at state, the Knights had a chance to play for fifth place in Class A against the Section 7A champion and 27-6 Ely Timberwolves. Unlike their first two matches at state, this was not a five-set thriller. The Wolves were able to overwhelm the Knights and finish with a 3-0 sweep to earn the Class A Consolation Championship title over WCA.

The Wolves jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, but The Knights came right back to their first lead of the match at 6-5 off an ace from Madelyn Westrom. 

Both teams traded points, with neither side gaining an edge. Ely opened the first three-point lead of the match at 16-13. The lead got as big as four points at 18-14, but a Isabelle Puchalski kill made it four straight points to cut it to one point, 19-18. 

Ely managed to always keep their noses in front and opened up a 22-19 lead, forcing the Knights to call their first timeout of the set. The Wolves came out of the timeout with two straight points to make it 24-19, forcing another WCA timeout. WCA got one point closer, but could not do anymore damage, losing the first set 25-20. 

In the second set, the Wolves started early with a 12-6 lead right off the bat. It did not take long for the Knights to get back in the set, thanks to a service run from Puchalski, the Knights cut the deficit down to 13-11 and forced an Ely timeout.

It was a timely timeout for the Wolves, as they were able to halt momentum and built the lead back up to 19-13 quickly and forced a timeout from the Knights.

The set was quickly getting out of hand with Ely going up by 10 points and eventually losing by double digits 25-15 to put themselves in a 2-0 hole.

The Knights did themselves no favors in the start of the third set, allowing the Wolves to jump ahead 3-0 right away. The Knights scored to make it 3-1, but the Ely scoring run continued and it was soon 7-1 in favor of the Wolves. WCA responded with their own 7-1 run to tie the third set at 8-8, forcing Ely to use a timeout. 

The momentum stayed on the Knights’ side and an ace from Macy Grosz gave WCA a 17-13 advantage, forcing Ely to call their final timeout of the set. 

The Wolves scored the next five points and all of a sudden Ely was leading 18-17 and it was WCA’s turn to call a timeout.

Ely kept the scoring streak going and opened up a 21-18 advantage, forcing coach Melissa Foslien to call her final timeout. 

The Knights got back within two points on multiple occasions, but could not climb any closer than that. Ely finished off the sweep with a 25-21 win over the Knights. 

As a team, the Knights only finished the match with 26 kills as a team. Mya Foslien led the team with 11 kills, Madison Fagre chipped in with eight kills, Puchalski added six and the only other kill came from Grosz. Grosz led the team with 22 of their 25 assists. 

At the service line, they only finished with two aces, one each from Grosz and Madelyn Westrom. 

On defense, Madelyn Westrom led the squad with 17 digs and Mya Foslien was the only other Knight to finish in double figures with 13 digs. Whitney Westrom dug out seven, Grosz and Alaina Sykora both dug out six and Sophie Sanstead added five. At the net, Jaclynn Nelson led WCA with three blocks, Puchalski and Whitney Westrom blocked two and Mya Foslien added one block.

With the loss, WCA finished the season with a 24-11 overall record and were the sixth place team in the Class A state tournament. 

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