Vikings rally from two down to defeat Lakers
Pelican Rapids came to Detroit Lakes knowing how to win games having been successful in eight of nine matches this season, including tournament play. The Lakers were looking for a first win of the year in five tries and got off to hot start taking the opening two sets, but the Vikings rallied for a 3-2 come-from-behind victory Tuesday night at Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.
“They fought back and this was the first team we’ve been super challenged with and that scared them right away and we definitely had some mental breakdowns the first two sets,” Vikings head coach Heidi Isaman said. “They haven’t come up against pin hitters as tough as these girls. We got smarter as the night went on and learned how to cut around it.”
The Lakers dominated play early winning the opening set 25-17. Haidyn Gunderson pounded set point down to put the Lakers up 1-0.
The Vikings took a five-point lead at 13-8 in the second and led by six at 16-10 before a stretch of five straight Laker points. Gunderson polished off a long rally to get to down 16-13 and DL seized momentum. The Lakers outscored Pelican 12-7 when it mattered to take a two set lead with a 25-23 win. DL had contributions from many hands in Bre Price, Rachael Perkins, Maggie Buboltz, Teeya Doppler and Jocelyn Patnaude had a block, followed by an ace two points later to give DL the push it needed to close out the set. Courtnee Ziegler aced the Vikings on a an important point and a 23-20 lead.
Facing an early exit, Isaman implored her team during the break to, “Keep playing smarter, know where the blockers are and don’t be scared of them. Hit around them and be more aggressive on the service line and get them on the system that they couldn’t get the ball as easily as they could in the first two sets. We also needed to keep hitting the ball.”
The Vikings heeded their head coach’s words and took the third 25-14. Morgan Berg answered a booming Gunderson kill with a strike down the line to give Pelican an 18-11 advantage and the Viking attack only surrendered three more Laker points.
Pelican got outstanding play from their middle hitters junior Adriana Torres and senior Jessica Weinrich. Despite being outmatched in size, both found open lanes to get kills down and took over late in the game.
Torres took on much of the attack in the fourth after Weinrich left with a rolled ankle.
Pelican never trailed in the fourth set after a tie at nine-all dictating play and taking advantage of Laker errors as tension built in the match.
“The more we could get them out of system the more advantage it was for us,” said Isaman.
Pelican evened the match on a kill by outside hitter Taylor Berndt on a ball that sat up for her at the net. She pounded it away for a 25-21 set-clinching point.
Much like the fourth, the 15-point decider was tight early with tie scores at one, two, three, six and seven, with each team leading by one point four times.
Weinrich was back with a vengeance and took over with a kill to put Pelican up 8-7.
“For her to come back and get in there and dominate in the end was pretty fun for us and big for her,” said Isaman.
The Vikings scored seven of the final eight points including two kills and a block by Weinrich, a third kill to get to match point and she took the serve for the win sealing the match 15-9.
Pelican Rapids improves to 9-1 and faces Heart O’ Lakes Conference foes, the Barnesville Trojans (4-0), Thursday, Sept. 14 at home.
The Lakers fall to 0-5 and face a tough road test at undefeated Park Rapids (5-0). The Panthers are the defending Mid-State Champions. That game is also Thursday night in the Park Rapids gym.
Pelican Rapids 3, Detroit Lakes 2
(17-25, 23-25, 25-14, 25-21, 15-9)