Steffes records 1,000th career assist in Fertile-Beltrami's four-set loss to W-H-A
FERTILE — The moment the Fertile-Beltrami volleyball team was waiting for arrived not a moment too soon.
Early in the third set, the Falcons down 2-0 to Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, Aubree Steffes threw both her hands up, palms flat, and gently teed up a set for Marin Roragen. When Roragen spiked the ball down hard on the Wolves' side of the court, Steffes' 1,000th career assist was official.
The game paused and the Fertile-Beltrami fans gave a standing ovation, as Steffes was ushered towards a sign celebrating her accomplishment. After a few pictures were taken, play resumed.
When records are set in the middle of a match, the ensuing celebration is often little more than a momentary diversion. For the Falcons, Steffes' record-setter might have been more significant.
"I think they were a little — not worried, but maybe they were thinking, 'We gotta put this down, we gotta put this down, so we can get this done,' " said coach Kerri Solie. "When she got her 1,000th assist, I think that they just relaxed a little bit and played a little better."
Steffes' assist did help Fertile-Beltrami get back in the game, sparking a 9-2 run that helped seal the third set and keep the Falcons alive. Completing the entire comeback, though, proved too tall a task.
Despite Steffes' 24 assists and Roragen's 27 kills, the Falcons couldn't rally from a 20-11 fourth-set deficit, falling 3-1 to the Wolves on Friday night.
"I thought we did a great job blocking and also a great job on defense," Solie said. "We do need to work on our off-speed and out of system plays."
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (8-1) came in as the top team in Section 5A, and at the beginning, it played like it. The Wolves pulled away towards the end of a close first set, finishing on a 7-2 run to win, 25-20, after the Falcons (7-4) took the lead.
The second set wasn't quite as competitive. W-H-A went up 15-7 before Fertile-Beltrami fought back, but the Falcons couldn't cut it any closer than five in a 25-16 loss.
But then came Steffes' 1,000th — and with it, a turning point of sorts.
"They all just sighed a little bit," Solie said. "Like, we got it, she accomplished this, that's great, I was here to see it and play with her and do it."
Solie thought her team played with much more flow in the third set. They also showed calmness under pressure: after the Wolves went on a 7-1 run to cut an 18-9 lead in two-thirds, Fertile-Beltrami closed out the third set up 25-21.
The fourth set appeared to be almost a carbon copy of the third set, but in Walker-Hackensack-Akeley's direction. The Wolves scored seven straight points to create a nine-point lead that proved insurmountable, although the Falcons came as close as 22-19.
They didn't appear too broken up about Friday's defeat, though. After the match was over and Solie's postgame talk to them was over, parents took the court and the Falcons gathered around Steffes for one more picture commemorating a special night.
"That's a huge feat for her to have," Solie said. "She's been playing varsity since her sophomore year, has taken on that leadership role for us ... She's a person that works hard during the offseason, she works hard during the season. No matter what it is, she's constantly always working hard. Very proud of her for that."
UP NEXT: Fertile-Beltrami hosts Mahnomen-Waubun (3-5) on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Walker-Hackensack-Akeley travels to Clearbrook-Gonvick (2-1) Tuesday.
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 3, Fertile-Beltrami 0 (25-20, 25-16, 21-25, 25-19)
- Kills: Marin Roragen 27, Aubree Steffes 4, Kasia Wilson 3, Abby Ranz 2, Aubree Swenby 2, Ava Stene 2, Tori Erickson 1
- Assists: Aubree Steffes 24, Kasia Wilson 2, Marin Roragen 2, Abby Ranz 1, Ava Stene 1, Taylor Miller 1, Tori Erickson 1
- Digs: Marin Roragen 18, Aubree Steffes 16, Ava Stene 16, Aubree Swenby 13, Taylor Miller 9, Annika Messick 2, Tori Erickson 2, Abby Ranz 1, Kasia Wilson 1
- Blocks: Marin Roragen 3, Aubree Swenby 1, Tori Erickson 1
- Aces: Ava Stene 1, Marin Roragen 1
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