Moorhead volleyball wins fifth straight section championship
November 5, 2019
The Moorhead High volleyball team will play at the state tournament for the fifth straight year after a win against Brainerd in the section semifinal and a win over Sartell-St. Stephens to take the section championship.
After sweeping Detroit Lakes in the quarterfinal matchup, the Spuds volleyball team did the same thing to Brainerd, winning sets 25-15, 25-17 and 29-27 in the Minnesota Class 3A, Section 8 volleyball semi-finals tournament Oct. 29 at Moorhead High.
After Moorhead easily put away the first two sets, the Warriors rallied. Brainerd started with a 1-4 lead and kept it until Moorhead tied it up at 18-18.
At 25-24, Moorhead had a chance to win but a service error tied the game. Down 27-26, Sam Zimmerman had a powerful kill to tie the game again. Senior captain Jalen Ennen got the next kill, and Carleigh Vedder got her third service ace to win the day.
Zimmerman led the Spuds with 10 kills and six blocks. Senior captain Claire Howell had eight kills, 12 assists, four blocks and three aces. Alexa Gronwold had 16 assists, while Willow Carrier added 22 digs, and Mya Pfeifer added seven kills.
The Spuds carried their eight-game winning streak to Alexandria to play against Sartell-St. Stephens for the Section 8 championship on Nov. 2.
No. 1-seeded Sartell-St. Stephens came out hot, quickly taking the lead. In the first set, No. 2-seeded Moorhead had to overcome a 17-23 deficit to win 27-25. The Sabres came back to win the second set 25-27.
It was a battle back and forth before Moorhead figured out what needed to be done, winning set three 25-19 and the final set 25-20.
Howell led the Spuds with 18 kills, 22 assists and six blocks. Ennen added 14 kills and 33 digs. Zimmerman had 14 kills.
This will be the 24th state appearance for the Moorhead volleyball team since its first visit in 1974. In her 21 years as volleyball coach, Char Lien has made 18 state appearances with the Spuds.
The Moorhead Spuds take their 19-11 record to St. Paul for the AAA state volleyball tournament Nov. 7-9 at the Xcel Energy Center. The Spuds play Minnetonka at 9 a.m. Nov. 7.
Photo: Minnesota Class 3A, Section 8 Volleyball Champions. Front: Grace Perry, Rosie Anderson, Ayana Blythe, Jalen Ennen, Claire Howell, Carleigh Vedder, Alexa Gronwold, Willow Carrier and Riane Mohagen. Back: Assistant Coach Kortney Carney, Coach Char Lien, Assistant Coach Courtney Selbitschka, Mya Pfiefer, Bryn Stumo, Megan Haugo, Sam Zimmerman, Ella Swedberg, Anna Knain, Student Manager Shelby Holman, Assistant Coach Brittney Sadlemyer, Assistant Coach Brooke Gronwold, Assistant Coach Amber Gunkel and Trainer Nikole Koehn. Credit: Renée Grover