LA CROSSE – The Grantsburg volleyball team had good reason to feel good about its match on Saturday.
The Pirates won their regional and defeated St. Croix Falls in their sectional opener on Thursday after twice losing to the Saints during the regular season. They entered Saturday’s sectional final with a five-match win streak and a win over Aquinas meant a trip to Green Bay for the WIAA Division 3 state finals.
But they were stopped shy of packing their bags for the cross-state venture.
The Blugolds, who entered the sectional final with a 10-match win streak and had lost just three matches all season, earned 25-20 and 25-21 wins in the first two sets, then halted a potential comeback by answering the Pirates’ 25-20 win in the third set with a 25-23 win in the fourth to earn a trip to Green Bay. The loss ended Grantsburg’s season with a 30-6 overall record.
Hanne Johnson led the Pirates with 26 assists, 15 digs and 15 kills; Raisa Jensen had 30 digs; Ellie Duncan had 13 assists and Emma Quimby had 12 digs with four kills.
In their match against St. Croix Falls, the Pirates got the 2-0 lead though the Saints answered both set wins. Grantsburg won the opening set 25-17 and then needed extra play to win the second, 26-24. But the comeback by St. Croix Falls provided reason to worry.
“I thought we might be able to do it in three, but as I’ve said to many people this season – St. Croix Falls is very tough to beat in five sets,” Grantsburg coach Deb Allaman-Johnson said. “We were able to take the first two sets from them, but not many can outlast them in five.”
The Pirates held late leads in both the third and fourth sets, but the Saints rallied to win the third set 25-23 and the fourth 26-24 to force a tiebreaker fifth set. A slight adjustment by the Pirates helped get a 15-8 win to close the match.
“The difference for the fifth set was an early lead and a slightly-changed lineup that moved a taller blocker opposite of (St. Croix Falls’) Sidney Hoverman, one of the state’s best Division 3 hitters, to slow her down a little,” Allaman-Johnson said. “Fortunately, we were able to alternate sideouts to hang on for the win.”
Olivia Ohnstad had 21 digs, 14 kills and five blocks for the Pirates; Johnson had 22 assists, 22 digs, 12 kills and five blocks; Duncan had 20 assists and Jensen had 14 digs.