After escaping the first set 25-21, the Eagles went on to win the following two sets 25-13 and 25-9.

    The Pirates appeared to be two different teams between the first and second set against the Sacred Heart Eagles. Crookston (2-3) led by as much as four in set one, but never found a rhythm as they suffered their third loss of the season.

    The Eagles aced the first point of the match and quickly led 4-1. As a rebuttal, Rachel Hefta (Sr. MH) tallied her first kill of the match and Hailey Seaver (Sr. MH) earned a kill of her own two points later to cut into the Eagles’ lead now 5-3.

    Sacred Heart gained control scoring four straight points and increased their lead to 8-3. Once again, Crookston rallied with a kill by Seaver and three balls hit out of bounds by Sacred Heart who led 9-7.

    A service error started a Pirates’ run and back-to-back aces by Seaver gave Crookston their first lead of the match at 10-9. The Eagles committed a violation which set up Rylee Solheim (Fr. OH) for a kill during the following volley and increased the Pirate lead to 12-9. Crookston capitalized on a service error and later led 16-12 as part of a 9-3 run.

    "I think everyone was ready to take care of their job," Head Coach Ashley Stopa said. "We were excited. We were moving to the ball and we just did a pretty good job."

    Without flinching, Sacred Heart stormed back while taking advantage of a few Pirates’ mistakes and tied the game at 18-18. The Eagles took a 20-18 lead and a service error brought Crookston one point closer, but Sacred Heart recovered to win set one 25-21.

    Set two belonged to the Eagles who leapt out to a 12-4 lead. The Pirates struggled with the Eagles’ spikes and Sacred Heart cruised to a 25-13 win to take a 2-0 set lead.

    Only once in this young season did Crookston win set number two. The 1-4 mark in such sets leaves Stopa wondering what gets lost between set one, where the Pirates own a 3-2 record, and set two.

    "I think it's partially us," Stopa said. "I don't know what we do. But something with us happens where intensity stops and we just can't keep it up."

    In the final set, the Eagles either sent the ball screaming to the court or blooped the ball to a bare spot. Crookston kept the match close only trailing 7-5, but an 8-1 run slingshot Sacred Heart to a 15-6 lead.

    The Pirates benefited from a service error and a Hefta kill to make the score 15-8, but the Eagles answered with eight straight points and later won the set 25-9.

    "[The Eagles] have some good hitters and they have their hitters move around a little bit," Stopa said. "They do a good job finding their spots. I think we were just waiting for other people to do our jobs. When one thing doesn't go our way, we focus on the one thing and we don't focus on the other nine things that went well."

    Winless at home and undefeated on the road, Crookston will head to Twin Valley on Monday, September 10 for a match against Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal at 7:30 p.m.

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For feedback or questions, contact the Times at (218) 281-2730, Nolan Beilstein at (940) 372-8175 or by email at nbeilstein@crookstontimes.com