Pioneers volleyball wins consolation title

Hill-Murray senior Hannah Angeli (9) sets the ball during State Class AA play at Xcel Nov. 12. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Hill-Murray senior Hannah Angeli (9) sets the ball during State Class AA play at Xcel Nov. 12. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Hill-Murray senior Ellie Schwartz (3) pounds one over the net in State Class AA quarterfinal action against Stewartville at Xcel Nov. 12. Haley LaValle (1) is also in on the action.  (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Hill-Murray senior Ellie Schwartz (3) pounds one over the net in State Class AA quarterfinal action against Stewartville at Xcel Nov. 12. Haley LaValle (1) is also in on the action. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Going up to block are junior Brooke Zander (18) and senior Ellie Schwartz (3) as Amy Koalska (2) serves as back up. The Pioneers lost 25-14, 25-11, 22-25 and 25-18 before going on to win the consolation final. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Going up to block are junior Brooke Zander (18) and senior Ellie Schwartz (3) as Amy Koalska (2) serves as back up. The Pioneers lost 25-14, 25-11, 22-25 and 25-18 before going on to win the consolation final. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

The Hill-Murray High School Pioneers moved through some tough competitions in the Section 4 volleyball playoffs to emerge victorious and advance to their second-ever appearance in the Minnesota State Volleyball Tournament in Class 2AA.

In 2013 the team made it to the final game, losing the last match of the year and finishing in second place.

Last week the Pioneers brought some metal home as they won two in a row after falling in the opening match, 3-1, to the Stewartville Tigers.

The loss to the Tigers dropped Hill-Murray into the consolation bracket, where they went up against the Ada-Borup Cougars.

Ada-Borup won the first two games before Hill-Murray staged a dramatic comeback to win 3-2.

The Pioneers dropped the first game 25-23, then the second 25-21. They rallied to win the third, 25-21, and then the fourth, 25-23. In the final game of the match, Hill-Murray gained the right to the consolation finals with a 15-11 victory.

In the battle for the consolation trophy, the Pioneers went up against the Morris Area Tigers and caged their foes in a three-game triumph by downing them 25-16, 25-18 and 25-22.

But it was the Pioneers' performance in the Section 4 tournament that really caught the attention of head coach Tim Walen.

"It was such an honor to be at our second state tournament for the second time in three years. The girls had to play two incredibly tough matches to get to the tournament, and the section final versus New Life Academy was one to remember," Walen said.

"We were down 23-24 in the fourth set before winning 28-26, and then down 14-13 in the fifth before winning 16-14. It was an incredible night.

"The girls could have given up so many times, but they never did. They held together and trusted each other and pulled out the win.

"It was a great way to earn the trip to 'State,'" he said.

Hill-Murray finished the 2015 season as the Metro East Conference champions, going 6-1. The team's overall record was 23-11.

—Wally Wakefield

 

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