Crookston held a 2-1 set advantage, but the Ponies went on to win the final two sets in the Pirates' final home game of the season.
The Crookston Pirates hosted their final home game against the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo Ponies. For the seniors, Taylor Haglund, Hope Schear, Aleece Durbin, Katelyn Wagner and Teagen Carlstrom, it would be their last game playing volleyball in the Crookston High School Gym.
For the third time in four games, the Pirates went the distance going five sets. Crookston lead the Ponies 2-1 going into set four, but dropped the final two and the Ponies spoiled the farewell night winning 3-2.
Crookston put together a decent start taking an 8-4 lead in set one with a couple of blocks and an ace by Rachel Hefta. But the Ponies roared back to take an 11-9 lead as part of a 7-1 run.
The Pirates tied it at 11-11 after a Wagner kill, but a couple of mistakes gave the Ponies a commanding lead that they carried out to a 25-19 win.
In the second set, the Pirates controlled throughout. They grabbed another lead early after kills by Katelynn Genereux and Wagner. This time around, the Ponies were the one with the lapses.
Leading 19-15, the Pirates received contribution from Wagner, Durbin and Schear on consecutive points to take a 22-15 lead. The Ponies added one more point to the Pirates three and the match was tied at 1-1.
Both teams battled early for set three. Hefta evened the score at eight apiece with a kill that started the Pirates surge. The Ponies hit a few balls out, mishandled one and spiked one into the net to give Crookston a 13-8 lead.
The Pirates managed to keep a consistent lead and with a score of 23-14, had three players earn points to win set three. Genereux and Wagner earned a kill and Carlstrom sealed the set three win with a ball that found the floor on the other side.
Needing one more set to win the match, Crookston trailed early in set four 9-1, a deficit they struggled to overcome.
Wagner recorded a kill to make it 11-4. Then Carlstrom hit a ball over after a couple of ricochets that landed in bounds behind all the Ponies players. Kasey Cwikla added a kill to cut the deficit to 14-7, but many of the times Crookston scored, they responded with a service error. The Ponies took advantage of the early lead and went on to win set four 25-15 forcing a final winner-take-all set five.
To begin the final set, each team traded blows, but the Pirates held a 5-4 lead following a Wagner kill. The Ponies attacked with five straight points including a pair of aces to take a 9-5 lead in a set requiring 15 points to win.
Crookston pulled to within four points at 12-8 after a long volley eventually hit out by the Ponies. Carlstrom recorded an ace on the following serve. The Pirates were next called for a double hit giving the Ponies a 13-9 advantage. Hefta added a kill to make the score 13-10, but the Ponies were able to score the final two points to the Pirates’ one beating Crookston 15-11 and taking the match 3-2.
Head Coach Ashley Stopa saw the loss as an improvement from previous games.
“I think we played better than we did against Barnesville,” Stop said. “I think we fought for every ball a little bit more and we were faster. Things just didn’t go our way.”
Hefta finished the match with 15 kills and Wagner with nine. Durbin lead the team in aces with four. Kylie Solheim earned her 300th assist of the season tallying 29 on the night. Carlstrom added 43 digs to reach over 300 digs on the season.
The Pirates own a record of 5-13-3 and will travel to Fisher for their final regular season match against Climax-Fisher.
Stopa looks to focus on minuscule issues and gain some momentum as the regular season ends.
“We’re just going to fine-tune some small things,” Stopa said. “We’re going to talk about what we can do better. They have everything, they just need to play as a team.”
The match starts at 7:30 p.m.