JORDAN – In a match up of two teams both ranked #4 in Class AA it only makes sense that it would go five sets. When phrases like, “It felt like a state tournament atmosphere.” and “The intensity was off the charts tonight,” are said commonly you get an idea for the feeling in a packed Jordan High School Thursday night as Belle Plaine won over Jordan 22-25, 25-18, 15-25, 25-19, 17-15.
It was the second meeting of the season between the Minnesota River Conference rivals, but unlike the match up in September in Belle Plaine this one counted for the conference standings. You know it’s a great match when an AD for a school is cheering hard and reacting to every point played in a fifth set. Both teams coming into this match up knew that Thursday would go a long way to deciding a conference champ and who would be the top seed in the North Sub-Section in Section 2AA. Jordan was getting Kelsey Chambers back after missing a week and a half with mononucleosis.
The high intensity evening started in the first set with Belle Plaine jumping out to an early 4-0 lead and would maintain that big lead late into the first set. Jordan would respond with a big service set from senior Emilee Gutzmer who used her float serve to give Jordan a 5-0 run to make the score 20-19, Belle Plaine. The Tigers would respond by holding on to make the score 22-20 before Jordan would finish the first set with another 5-0 run to win the first set 25-22.
Belle Plaine would start the second set with a 5-1 lead to start the set thanks to the attack from junior Haley Fogarty and senior Abby Wolpern. Jordan would respond once again to trim the lead to 6-4, Belle Plaine before a 4-0 run on the serve by senior libero Lizzy Eischens to give Belle Plaine a 10-4 lead. Jordan would only get the Belle Plaine lead down to 3 at 18-15, but the Tigers would end up cruising to a 25-18 win to tie the match at one set a piece.
The third set would start different with this time Jordan getting the first point, but the score would be back-and-forth until it was tied at 10-10. Then for the second time in the evening Jordan’s Emilee Gutzmer would use her float serve and a combination of bad passing and attacking errors from Belle Plaine to go on a 8-0 run to give the Jaguars a lead they would never relinquish. Jordan would cruise to a 25-15 win in the third set and go up two sets to one.
Big runs would define the fourth set as Belle Plaine would come blazing out of the gate with a 4-0 lead to start the set. Then after a service error gave the ball to Jordan they would then go on a 7-0 run on the serve of senior Paige Smith to give Jordan a 7-4 lead before Belle Plaine coach Cassie Wolpern would call a timeout. Jordan would extend their lead to 14-9 before a big turning point of the night. Senior Becky Koepp would take the serve and the attack from Fogarty and Wolpern would set Belle Plaine on a 7-0 run and also force Jordan to use both of their timeout before the run was stopped with Belle Plaine leading 16-14. Belle Plaine would not look back as they were able to run their offense and would win the fourth set 25-19 to force a fifth and deciding set.
The fifth set would see both teams step up the incredible effort from both teams and saw bodies diving everywhere to keep the ball alive and saw many great points that went well over 15 hits. The fifth set saw both teams trim down their attackers to mainly Kelsey Chambers and Rachel Fruend for Jordan with help from Paige and Courtney Smith and for Belle Plaine Haley Fogarty, Abby Wolpern and a big set from junior Kirsten Johnson. Neither team would have a lead bigger than three in the final set. Belle Plaine would get the early lead at 4-2 and would lead 9-7 until Jordan would call their first timeout after a bad serve receive from the Jaguars. The Jaguars would get the first point coming out of the timeout, but Belle Plaine would get the next two points which forced Coach Geisel to use his second and final timeout of the final set. Belle Plaine would maintain the lead and make the score 14-11.
That’s when the real fun of the evening would begin. Jordan would get a side out to make the score 14-12 with junior Hannah Klegstad going back to serve. Jordan who had Megan Johnson, Paige Smith and Rachel Freund on the front row and had Kelsey Chambers in the back row with all of their hopes for a conference title on the line. The Jaguars would go on a 4-0 run to not only tie, but take the lead 15-14 which would force Belle Plaine coach Cassie Wolpern to call both of her timeouts. Belle Plaine would respond with kills from Kirsten Johnson for three straight points to win the match 17-15 and send the Belle Plaine student section onto the floor.
Belle Plaine improves to 5-0 in the MRC and 12-4 overall. Jordan falls to 3-2 in the MRC and 11-9 overall. Both team are participating in the Todd Bachman Invitational at Lakeville North Friday and Saturday.
By: Adam Bartels