The Belle Plaine Tigers are one step closer to the Class AA state championship after upsetting the second-seeded Marshall Tigers Thursday night.
The match got off to a great start for Belle Plaine who had the tall order of taking on Marshall with multiple six-footers.
Pressure up front centered around Belle Plaine Lizzie Hilgers who forced Marshall to fire shots that often landed outside of the court. Belle Plaine found themselves with a 9-4 lead, proving that they could get the jump on Marshall who continued to struggle with power shots.
In the back court, Belle Plaine libero Sydney Meyer kept several plays alive in her team’s winning opening set that, to the surprise of the bracket makers, proved not to be overly competitive. Belle Plaine sealed the deal with the 25-15 win.
Meyer stated that managing her position has been a challenge for her during practice, but on Thursday she rarely overstepped and found herself with multiple dramatic saves throughout the contest.
The second set told a different story as both Tiger teams struggled to put together scoring runs.
Belle Plaine lost some points to service errors but began winning the longer exchanges, which they had tended to lose up until midway through the second set. Blocks up front continued to pose a major challenge for Marshall as they continued to fire shots out of bounds.
With things tied at 20, Belle Plaine went on a 5-point tear to close out the second set 25-20.
Marshall began firing back in the fourth set. A rough middle portion of the set put Belle Plaine back and gave Marshall their first meaningful scoring run of the evening.
Belle Plaine crept back, but Marshall put themselves too far ahead to be caught and ultimately clinched the set up 25-21
It looked as though Marshall was going to demonstrate why they came into the state tournament as the second seed when they hammered away at Belle Plaine to open the fourth set, amassing a 9-1 run in the process.
Belle Plaine made minor adjustments with offensive formations, and the small adjustments led to a big comeback.
Belle Plaine began making things messy for Marshall when they refused to give up easy points.
Things got tied up at 11 when Marshall hit another hard shot out of bounds.
With things again tied, this time at 17, Belle Plaine hitter Mikayla Coops gave Marshall something to think about when she slammed a shot down to the floor deep in their territory to give Belle Plaine the 18-17 lead.
Back-to-back services aces from Belle Plaine’s Morgan Kruger put her team up 20-17 and set the stage for the final phase of the match.
Marshall refused to go out without a fight, and each volley seemed to last longer than the next.
A medical stoppage on the part of Marshall put a pause to an elite back and forth. The match resumed, and the exchange picked back up right where it left of with neither team giving up an inch. The ball finally found its home on Marshall’s floor, giving Belle Plaine the 24-20 lead.
A relatively routine point for Belle Plaine sent the underdogs into a frenzy as they cemented their 3-1 over a storied Marshall team.
“We just did a good job getting after them,” Belle Plaine coach Rich Foust said.
“We were all in a huddle and just looked at each other and said ‘ let’s go, we know we can do this,’” Hilgers said of the upset that came amid Belle Plaine being down on the scoreboard on multiple occasions.