Belle Plaine comes back from down 2-0 to win, clinch MRC title 14 Oct 11

LE SUEUR – Another Thursday night Minnesota River Conference volleyball matchup for Belle Plaine and another five-set victory on the road 21-25, 15-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-6 this time against LeSueur-Henderson. This time the Belle Plaine came back from down two sets to none to win thanks to a big performance from senior libero Lizzy Eischens and junior outside hitter Haley Fogarty. The Tigers also increase their MRC winning streak to 19.

The first set would start with a 4-1 lead for Belle Plaine before LeSueur-Henderson would bounce back on a 4-0 run on the serve of junior Danica Tiegs as part of a 9-2 run to make give LSH the lead 10-6. LSH would use the attack of juniors Gabby Thomas and Danica Tiegs in the first two sets to help them spread out the block of Belle Plaine. The Tigers would get the LSH lead down to one at 18-17 before a huge 5-0 run with two aces on the serve of senior Gretta Schultz to lead 23-17. That wouldn’t be the end of the set though as Belle Plaine would come back with a 4-0 run that used up both timeouts from LSH to make the score 23-21. The Giants after the second timeout would come out and get the last two points of the set to win 25-21.

Belle Plaine early service problems would set them back in the second set as the score would stay close with side out volleyball until the score was 8-8. LSH would then go on a 9-1 run on the serves of junior Jessica Thelemann (13 kills) and once again Danica Tiegs to put the Giants up 17-9. LSH would cruise to a 25-15 victory to go up two sets to none.The third set would be very close all the way through until a late run by Belle Plaine that saw neither team lead by more than four.

Belle Plaine would jump out to a 6-2 lead before LSH head coach Dave Nixon would use a timeout to calm the team down. The big runs for either team in the third set would be few and far between as LSH would go on a 6-2 run to tie the score 8-8. Belle Plaine would slowly pull away to a 16-13 lead finally able to get their attack from Abby Wolpern (12 kills) and Haley Fogarty (18 kills) going after being stopped early by the block on the front row by LSH. The Giants would go on a 5-1 run to make the score 18-17, LSH before Belle Plaine coach Cassie Wolpern would use the first timeout of the third set. With the score tied at 20-20 Belle Planie would go on a 5-0 run on the serve of junior Kirsten Johnson to win 25-20 to force a fourth set.

Belle Plaine and LeSueur-Henderson would play the fourth set close the whole way through as neither team would have a bigger lead than two until late. The only three point run by either team would happen when Belle Plaine would make the score 8-7, but the side out volleyball would continue from there until 17-16 LSH. The Tigers would go on a 6-1 run to make take a 22-18 lead and just like the first set LSH would use both timeouts during the run. The Giants would make the score 23-22, Belle Plaine before the Tigers would take the final two points to win 25-22 and force a fifth set.

Just like last year when both teams played in the final conference game of the year they would go to the fifth set. Not known at the time Jordan had defeated Montgomery-Lonsdale three sets to one, meaning that Belle Plaine could outright win the conference title Thursday night if they defeated LSH. Reminiscent of the third set Belle Plaine would jump out to a big lead this time 7-2 forcing LSH to use both timeouts of the fifth set. LSH would have their big run to make the score 9-6 before Jessica Thelemann would miss hit a free ball over the net and from there Belle Plaine would not look back to win 15-6 going to Kirsten Johnson for the kill that would clinch the MRC title for the second year in a row.

Belle Plaine improves to 6-0 in the MRC and 16-5 overall they will travel to Waconia on Monday. LeSueur-Henderson falls to 4-2 in the MRC and 16-6 overall and will travel to Norwood Young America on Tuesday.

By: Adam Bartels