After struggling throughout the regular season, the Section 8A Playoffs represented a fresh start for the Crookston volleyball team; a chance to pull off a miracle.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, it just wasn't to be.
In Monday night's tournament play-in game in Karlstad, Crookston fell in three sets to the Northern Freeze co-op, and its season came to an end.
Northern Freeze took the first two sets by a score of 25-17 and won the final set 25-16.
Kasey Cwikla led Crookston with six kills, while Jasmine Hanson contributed three. Dani Boyle and Rylee Solheim had 12 and eight digs, respectively. Emily Funk paced the Pirates' offense with eight assists.
Pirates coach Ashley Stopa felt that her team's blocking and consistent serving were bright spots. On the other hand, Crookston didn't adjust quickly enough to Northern Freeze's own serves, according to Stopa.
The Pirates finished 2019 with a record of 2-21. Despite this record, however, Stopa took away positives when looking back at the season gone by.
"Every player's individual skills and knowledge of volleyball strategy have developed over this season," Stopa said. "I am proud of how far the team’s communication has come."
Monday night was also the final match for Crookston's five seniors: Boyle, Cwikla, Hanson, Allie Love and Sophia Steiner.
"Our seniors led by example," Stopa said. "They worked hard in practice and brought a fun intensity to the court. We wish them the best of luck in all their future adventures."