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Eagles to play for Class A title

ST. PAUL -- Windom head coach Ron Wendorff has plenty of reasons to smile.

"This smile on this face isn't going to go off for a while; I'm going to enjoy this one," Wendorff said.

With another dominant sweep in the state tournament over Chisholm (22-6) Friday at the Xcel Energy Center, the Eagles (31-2) advance to the state finals today at 1 p.m.

After a sluggish start, Windom won each game by a progressively larger margin in a 25-15, 25-14, 25-5 victory.

"This is where we talked about where we wanted to get to," Wendorff said. "It's hard to talk about because there are so many obstacles in the way, but in the back of our minds and in our hearts all season long, we wanted to get in the state finals, and we're there. We just can't be any more happy than we are right now."

Senior Karissa Borsgard agreed with her head coach.

"I'm really excited because we haven't been here for seven years," Borsgard said. "I'm just excited that I'm a senior and I get to experience all this."

"We didn't play our best game," added Borsgard, who had nine digs. "We came out strong and then kind of went down. But in the end, we came out strong in the last game."

Friday's match was a reversal of the previous match, where Windom's largest victory was in Game 1.

"I thought in the first game we were a little more sluggish than we were in the first game yesterday," Wendorff said. "As the match went on, we got sharper and sharper."

Once again, it was Windom's serving that proved the difference.

"We've talked about it all year long, and we felt that one of our strengths was our serving," Wendorff said. "We spent a lot of time on it and we've worked on it, and the kids take pride in it. They have a thing going on who can get ace serves."

Allison Nau had seven aces, while Malori Paplow had four. As a team, the Eagles had 17 aces, compared to just one for Chisholm.

"At times we played pretty decent, but they had a smart game plan," Chisholm head coach Mike Ciochetto said. "Their serving and their outside hitting kind of took us out of it."

After winning the first two games, the Eagle team used two big service runs in the third game.

With a service error giving Windom its first points in the third game, Megan Ysker (six kills, 14 set assists, three serving aces) rattled off seven straight points to give the Eagles an 8-0 lead.

A serving error gave the Bluestreaks their first points, but Windom soon won another sideout. From there, Nau led a 13-0 run as Windom opened up a 22-1 lead in the third game.

The Eagles closed out the match and Game 3 with a 25-5 victory.

"In the third game we had those two servers that went off on them and it makes it pretty easy when you keep them out of system all the time with ace serves," Wendorff said. "The third game was fun and just kind of snowballed on Chisholm, obviously. It took the heart out of them after four or five points. To our kids' credit, we kept the pressure on them."

For the Bluestreaks, losing the second game gave the momentum to Windom.

"I think after we lost that second game, I think the girls got a little depressed and a little down and couldn't recover," Ciochetto said.

Windom started the first game of the match with a 6-1 run behind a kill and a tip shot from Amy Robinson (three kills). However, the Bluestreaks were able to climb back within a point at 7-6.

Behind strong serving and key plays from Casey Christensen (10 kills, three blocks) the Eagles went on a 14-5 run en route to a 25-15 victory.

The beginning of the second game proved to be the closest. Chisholm scored a pair of points to start the game, and led 6-5 early.

A kill from MaKenzie Lovell (three kills) tied the game and gave Windom the lead for good.

Chisholm's Alyssa Amic (six kills) had a pair of kills late in the game, but the Eagles were too much for the Bluestreaks in a 25-14 victory.

Chisholm will face Mayer Lutheran in the third-place match at 11 a.m. today.

"I'm not really disappointed," Ciochetto said. "It'd be nice to (play for a state championship), but these girls have come so far that whatever they do is not disappointing."

Windom will play for a state title, but will face a tough test in the No. 3 team in Bethlehem Academy.

"Tomorrow we're going to have to come out really strong and play our game," Borsgard said. "We know that we can win, and if we play our game I think we'll come out on top."

Bethlehem Academy has finished either first or second in the state five consecutive years, and all six starters were a part of last year's team that finished second. With a middle listed at 6-2, six players have more than 100 kills for the season.

"We're pretty tough and pretty balanced, and it's a mirror image of each other," Wendorff said. "They do a nice job of serving, and they have six girls that attack the net very well. We're just going to have to block and make plays. The team that makes plays tomorrow is going to win."

The Eagles have not lost a game at the state tournament, and have won each game by at least ten points.

"We are playing well now and we need to continue to play well, and keep doing the things that we've been doing," Wendorff said.