Roseville volleyball team to play for state berth

Earlier this season, the Roseville Area High School volleyball team played a match at Cretin-Derham Hall. Roseville won the first set and was a point away from going up two sets to none. That point never came and Cretin rallied to win the match in five sets.

Fast-forward to Tuesday night, again at the Cretin-Derham Hall field house but this time in the Section 4AAA semifinals. Roseville took the first set and found itself with set point in game two.

"Not this time," said senior Meghan Koop.

It did not happen the same way this time. Roseville closed out game No. 2 and also won the third game to clinch the match and a spot in Thursday's section championship match. The set scores were 25-22, 26-24, 26-24.

"Our girls just played their hearts out," said Roseville head coach Greg Ueland. "You have to dig in to beat Cretin. They're a great team. To come into their house and beat them is really hard."

Roseville (24-5) was definitely the better team during the first two games. Cretin held leads of one point four different times in the first set before Roseville went on a run to move ahead by as many as six. Cretin closed the gap to one a few times but Roseville responded by winning three of the last four points via an ace by freshman Haley Kauth and a pair of Cretin service errors.

Roseville never trailed in game two and led by as many as seven points in the middle of the set. Cretin fought back to tie it at 24-24 but a service error and a kill by sophomore Monica Burich closed out the set.

"In the locker room before this, you could just feel it," said senior Melissa Koop. "Everyone was in it; everyone on that court was going to put it out there."

Game three was the most competitive of the match. Roseville jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before Cretin recovered to take its own 3-point advantage at 15-12. From there it was back and forth the rest of the way. Roseville reestablished a lead at 20-19 before giving up two straight points. Cretin's lead was short-lived, however, as Roseville went back in front 22-21.

Cretin tied it at 24-24 but Roseville sealed the deal with a kill by Burich and an ace by junior Greta Thun.

"Since day one this year our goal has been to get to the Xcel Energy Center," Ueland said. "We still have one huge hurdle to go."

That hurdle is second-seeded North St. Paul (22-6), a three-set winner over sixth-seeded East Ridge in the other semifinal on Tuesday. The Raiders and Polars square off on Thursday at 7 p.m. at St. Paul Washington Magnet School (the former St. Paul Arlington High School).

Notes

The win over Cretin-Derham Hall extended Roseville's winning streak to 12 matches. The Raiders' last loss was a two-set defeat at the hands of Rogers in the St. Michael-Albertville tournament on Oct. 5.

Roseville's last trip to the section final came in 2009 when as the sixth seed it upset third-seeded Woodbury in the quarterfinals and second-seeded Hill-Murray in the semifinals. Top-seeded Stillwater ended the Raiders' run with a 3-0 victory in the championship match.

A win on Thursday would send Roseville to its third state tournament and first since 1993. The Raiders' other state-tournament appearance came in 1986, the year the school was founded.

Section 4AAA volleyball playoffs First round Woodbury def. Mahtomedi 21-25, 25-18, 25-18, 16-25, 17-15 Hill-Murray def. South St. Paul 25-12, 25-12, 25-15 Tartan def. Henry Sibley 25-10, 14-25, 25-16, 25-13 East Ridge def. White Bear Lake 25-12, 25-12, 25-13

Quarterfinals Cretin-Derham Hall def. Woodbury 25-11, 25-12, 25-16 Roseville def. Hill-Murray 25-14, 25-11, 25-22 North St. Paul def. Tartan 25-6, 25-23, 25-17 East Ridge def. Stillwater 25-19, 23-25, 14-25, 25-20, 15-13

Semifinals North St. Paul def. East Ridge 25-18, 25-17, 25-21 Roseville def. Cretin-Derham Hall 25-22, 26-24, 26-24

Championship, Thursday, 7 p.m. at St. Paul Washington Roseville vs. North St. Paul