The Rams swept Crookston 3-0 to break the Pirates' five match winning streak.
ROSEAU - The No. 5 Crookston Pirates came in fresh off their upset of No. 4 Thief River Falls in the first round of the Section 8AA Tournament. What awaited them was the top-ranked team in the north half of the section, the Roseau Rams. The Pirates played a competitive first set, but ultimately fell 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-17) to end their five match winning streak as well as their season.
“Being a seed that upset someone at home, we had to travel two nights in a row,” Head Coach Ashley Stopa said on the tournament’s trials. “Even in the regular season, we don’t have to play back-to-back. It was a tough schedule so I think that really dug into our physical and mental abilities.”
The match started favorable for the Pirates as they jumped out to a 4-1 lead capped off by a block from Rachel Hefta (Sr. MH). The Rams retaliated by going on a 7-1 run and took the lead 8-5.
Hailey Seaver (Sr. MH) recorded the team’s first kill of the night to stop the Roseau run, but the Rams came right back and scored five in a row.
“[The Rams] were pushing it around,” Stopa said. “I don’t think they really slammed the ball down, they just got the holes.”
Another kill from Seaver made the score 13-7 and a Roseau hitting error and an ace from Sydney Anderson (Sr. MH) brought the Pirates within four down 13-9.
With the lead at 17-10, Hefta notched her first kill of the night which sparked the Pirates. Crookston cut into the deficit down 20-15 and the Pirates continued their surge with a kill form Seaver and an ace from Hefta to trail 20-17.
“We were doing what we did last night,” Stopa said. “They were pushing, we got our serves in which was huge and we were swinging.”
Anderson added a kill to the stat sheet, but the Rams eventually won the opening set 25-21.
A slow start haunted Crookston in the second set. The Pirates struggled to cover holes on the court and could not find an answer to the Rams’ attacks. Roseau doubled the Pirates’ efforts and led 10-5 for an early advantage. A service error helped the Pirates to their sixth point, but the Rams’ lead only grew.
Anderson tallied a block later in the set to make the score 16-11 in favor of Roseau, but the Pirates only put up four more as the Rams snagged a commanding 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-15 set two victory.
Roseau kept the pressure on in set number three and leapt to a 9-2 lead. Down 11-3, Hefta slammed a ball to the court and made the score 11-4. After Hefta's kill, the Rams maintained their eight point lead with a 15-7 scenario.
Playing in their last match of their high school careers, Seaver and Hefta contributed back-to-back kills to come within seven down 17-10.
Hefta recorded a kill and an ace as part of a Pirate 4-1 run, but Roseau closed out the set and the match 25-17 to complete the sweep.
Crookston concludes with a record of 7-10 in a season in which they advanced past the first round of the section tournament for the first time since 2009.
“They definitely should [keep their heads high],” Stopa said on her team’s season. “I think the record speaks for itself in the last half of the season - the way that they were playing against teams that were good and just the growth as young ladies and volleyball players.”
With the year ending, Crookston says goodbye to their five seniors: Rachel Hefta, Hailey Seaver, Katelynn Genereux, Sydney Anderson and Kylie Solheim.
“I’m proud of them,” Stopa said about her senior class. “I wish them luck in their next adventure.”
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