FULL STORIES: The Bluejacket volleyball’s continued growth this season was witnessed in their final two matches. Handling the large crowds during the Section 7AAA tournament, the Cambridge-Isanti girls outlasted Forest Lake in the semifinals before dropping a five-game heart-breaker against Grand Rapids in the section championship.
On Oct. 30 in the home gym, the Jackets looked a little shell-shocked when Forest Lake stormed to a win in Game 1. But the Bluejackets regrouped nicely to post a 18-25, 25-17, 25-17, 24-26, 15-11 win over the Rangers.
In Game 2, Claire Sheehan ripped an ace serve and kept rolling to serve C-I out to a a 9-6 lead. She and sister Chloey Sheehan put together a nice string of kills to later open a 19-10 edge.
Claire Sheehan had the hot kill hand going early in Game 3, then Korbyn Felde fed off fine Sydney Larkin set assists down the stretch to create a 2-1 Jacket lead in the series.
“I just listen to my teammates, and they tell me what’s open,” described Felde about her hitting that night. “I can also tell by the block where to put the ball, too, but my teammates really help me out a lot.”
In Game 4, the Jackets owned leads of 21-16 and 24-21 before Mariah Daninger led the Rangers back to even the match. C-I’s growth was then witnessed by the energy-filled crowd by pulling away in Game 5 to win 15-11. McKenzie Torgerson tipped home two big points midway through the game, then Claire Sheehan ripped home three of the final four needed points, including painting the back line on match point.
“It was really exciting. We had a lot of positive energy, and we just stayed up. Our teammates carried each other,” said Felde on the win.
“We’re getting to be a lot better at managing a team that can play against us. We’re learning how to be relentless– to problem solve,” said Coach Vicki Courts after the semifinals victory. “We came out strong in that Game 5. Forest Lake had eight seniors, and I didn’t have a senior on the court tonight. Our girls are dropping less points, and they are managing their emotions. Our team is fiery and they love it, and the girls work hard. It’s a lot of fun.”
Bluejacket Stats vs. F.Lake: Cla. Sheehan– 25 kills, 1 block, 12 digs; Felde– 17 kills, 2 blocks, 7 digs; Larkin– 41 assists, 4 kills, 9 digs, 3 blocks; Torgerson– 6 blocks, 2 digs; Glotzbach– 15 digs; Clo. Sheehan– 3 kills, 4 blocks; Sjodin– 7 digs; Holt– 3 kills, 6 blocks.
On Saturday night in the Elk River gym, the Bluejackets squared off against Grand Rapids, and that turned into another wild five-game match to determine the Section 7AAA championship. The Thunderhawks earned their first State trip since 1996 after surviving 25-20, 27-29, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11.
In Game 2, libero Abby Glotzbach made several diving digs to lead the Jacket defense, and Larkin’s back sets to Claire Sheehan generated an early lead. After the game was tied at 25-all, Larkin and Claire Sheehan snuck in a set of tips for the two-point win.
Game 3 saw the Bluejackets rally from a 14-7 deficit to win by three points. Claire Sheehan ripped off four straight kills in the rally, and Glotzbach added two more amazing saves to keep the ball alive. Felde’s kills had the game tied at 21-21 before Sheehan finished with three kills.
The see-saw battle swung back to the Thunderhawks’ side in Game 4 as they went to more of a tipping attack, along with getting a handful of hard spikes from right-hitter Angela Gareri.
Game 5 began with Chloey Sheehan and Greta Holt coming through with a block to snap a T-hawk scoring string to keep it 8-5. Kills by Felde and Claire Sheehan kept the Jackets close, then a Claire block pulled C-I to within 12-11. But Grand Rapids’ leaping Anna Yurrick snapped off a wicked kill, and Gareri worked for a block then followed with a tip for match point.
After the match, captain Glotzbach fought through tears like the rest of the Jackets. “I am so proud of our team. Never in Jacket Volleyball history have we made it this far. And we played our butts off. We gave it our best,” she said. “We will work hard to get to State next year. We play JO (Junior Olympic Volleyball) in the winter, then we have summer camps and open gyms just to get better for next year. Yes, we are hungry for next season already.”
Bluejacket Stats vs. G. Rapids: Cla. Sheehan– 37 kills, 4 blocks, 38 digs; Felde– 13 kills, 20 digs; Larkin– 37 assists, 3 kills, 12 digs; Torgerson– 1 kills, 1 block, 10 digs; A. Glotzbach– 19 digs; Clo. Sheehan– 3 kills, 8 digs; Sjodin– 20 digs; Holt– 2 kills, 1 block.