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High school volleyball: JCC falls to MA/C-A in Section 3AA final

AARON HAGEN DAILY GLOBE MARSHALL -- After the teams split the first two sets Saturday night, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta edged Jackson County Central in the final two games to clinch the Section 3AA championship and a spot in the state volleyball ...

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Tim Middagh / Daily Globe Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta's Brooke Gillespie (12) hits the ball past JCC right hitter Alexa Palmer (2) in the Huskies' Section 3AA final loss on Saturday in Marshall.

AARON HAGEN

DAILY GLOBE

MARSHALL -- After the teams split the first two sets Saturday night, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta edged Jackson County Central in the final two games to clinch the Section 3AA championship and a spot in the state volleyball tournament.

After the Tigers won the first set 25-17 on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University, the Huskies came back with a 25-7 victory in Game 2. However, MA/C-A took the third set 25-23 before closing out the match with a 25-19 win.

“I told the girls afterwards, there’s nothing they should hang their heads about,” JCC head coach Deidre Wierson said. “It felt like a state championship match. I know they are proud of how they’ve come throughout the year and I think they need to continue to really hold their heads high and support the team that’s going on in our section here and be proud of Husky volleyball.”

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The Tigers earned the fifth seed in the Class AA state tournament and will open against fourth-seeded Concordia Academy-Roseville at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Huskies (22-8) fell behind early in Game 1 and weren’t able to get much going against the Tigers, trailing by as much as nine points late. Lacey Wacker pounded home a kill to give JCC a spark, but MA/C-A took the first set.

However, whatever momentum the Tigers had, Emily Paplow took back for the Huskies.

With JCC holding a 4-3 lead, the junior went back to the service line. She rattled off 15 straight points as the Huskies led 19-3.

“It was a total shift of momentum,” Wierson said. “The girls just had everything rolling. Emily Paplow did amazing at the service line. We do a drill called serve for points and that definitely proved that it helped us out here. Even into the third set, things were going our way. We just couldn’t finish through.”

Abby Benson, who finished with a team-high 21 kills, had a kill to seal the 25-7 victory in Game 2.

“She definitely was a leader out there on the court for us tonight and played amazing,” Wierson said of Benson.

MA/C-A jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the third set, but JCC responded and led 10-9 following a kill by Alaina Wolff. The teams battled back and forth until a kill by Ashley Solvie gave the Tigers a 22-19 lead. That lead would grow to 24-20 before JCC rattled off three straight points. However, Solvie slammed down a kill to take the third set for MA/C-A.

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The Huskies led early in the fourth set as a pair of ace serves by Lauren Murphy tied the game at six. After the teams continued to trade points, the Tigers had a 19-18 lead.

“We made a few adjustments with our defense and with our blocking,” Wierson said. “We were working with our block a lot trying to continue to react to anything with their middles and outside. Some of those errors that we made traded points a little bit there and had a few runs with the serve. It just didn’t work.”

The scored the next four points and led 23-18. A kill and a well-placed tip by Solvie scored the final two points and sent MA/C-A to state.

For JCC, it was the end of the careers for six seniors.

“Our seniors have definitely helped lead our team throughout the year,” Wierson said. “It’s hard to see them lose their final match here, just to see that defeat in their face. Tomorrow is a new day, the sun is going to rise again. A lot of them have some plans to play some college volleyball, so I’m real excited for them. They’ll take what they’ve learned here and bring that into next year. We’ll rebuild and continue to come back competitively. I’m very proud of each and every one of them.”

Paplow was 23-for-23 serving with three aces, while Alexa Palmer had 11 kills and seven blocks for JCC. Wolff had 13 digs and five kills while Tiana Menke led the team with eight blocks. Murphy was 10-for-10 serving with two aces to go with 11 digs and 18 set assists, while Wacker was 14-for-16 serving with two aces, seven digs, 22 set assists and nine kills.  

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