Otters fall in semis [UPDATED]Published 1:40pm Friday, November 8, 2013 Updated 7:43am Saturday, November 9, 2013
The Fergus Falls girls volleyball team’s chances for a state title ended Friday, as the Otters fell in three sets to Marshall, 25-15, 25-14, 25-7.
The Otters will play Kasson-Mantorville, which lost to Hill-Murray in five sets Friday, in the third-place game at 1 p.m. today. Marshall will take on Hill-Murray in the championship at 3 p.m.
For complete state tournament coverage, see Sunday’s Journal.
Otters defeat Belle Plaine in semis
ST. PAUL -— With just a set the Fergus Falls volleyball team showed that its inexperience in the state tournament meant little to its style of play as Brianna Rasmusson snuck the ball past Belle Plaine defenders to win its quarterfinal game 26-28, 25-, 25-, 19-25, 15-9 Thursday.
With blaring bands on all four corners of the Xcel Energy Center and fans packing the arena, the two teams came into the tournament with different storylines. The Otters were looking to make a splash in its first state tournament, while the Tigers looked to make a deeper push then they did last season.
A battle began to brew early on as in the middle of the first set as the two teams traded points back and forth. The Tigers looked as if they had pulled away to take the first set, but a few key points knotted the game up at 24 apiece.
Neither team was ready to give up the first set as the crowd went into a frenzy. The Tigers would finally pull away to take the extra point set.
The momentum would shift in the second set as Fergus came out firing taking a huge 17-4 lead before winning the set. The Fergus fans were deafening as the Otters picked up the third set as the Tiger fans could only watch in disbelief.
As Fergus Falls athletic director Gary Schuler describes a volleyball match, the game became a roller coaster of momentum. Just as everyone in attendance thought the game was all but over, Belle Plaine opened the fourth set with seven unanswered points. The Otters would rally back in the game, but the Tigers would not relinquish the lead as it forced a fifth and decisive set.
During a timeout, assistant coach Denny Hystead told the girls that if they were not going to win set four, that they better finish strong and carry that over into the final set. The Otters would do just that as they gained the upper hand and rode it to the victory as Rasmusson found the opening on the court.
“That was just instinct,” Erickson said of Rasmusson decision. “That is just the player she is. That is not something we could teach, she is just that good of a player that she could figure it out.”
Laura Gaustad led the Otters on the attack with 18 kills, while teammates Rasmusson and Anna Monke were also in double digits with 15 and 11, respectively. Gaustad was also credited with 20 of Fergus’ points in the win.
Gaustad may have also taken the award for play of the game as she sacrificed her body, landing into the announcers table, to save a ball that would lead to a Fergus point.
“This group of kids are down here to win. They are going to take a few chances like that to bring a ball back for their team. I’m glad that (Gaustad) was O.K.,” Erickson said.
The Otters will take on first seed Marshall, a three-set winner over Mora, at 5 p.m. today.