Peaking at precisely the right time, the Montevideo volleyball team has advanced to the Section 3AA North championship match.
Upset wins over Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta and Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop have earned the 10-14-1 Thunder Hawks a date with the perennial section powerhouse Marshall Tigers (23-5) today (Thursday) at 7 p.m. at Yellow Medicine East High School in Granite Falls. The winner will meet the champion of the South half of the section Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall for a berth in the state tournament.
Monte 3, Morris Area 1
Getting their best balanced offensive attack of the season, the sixth-seeded Thunder Hawks surprised the third-seeded Tigers in four games Friday at Morris.
A month earlier, Montevideo had lost in four sets to the Tigers on the Thunder Hawks' home floor but, on Friday, the underdog T-Hawks jumped out to a 15-7 lead in the first set.
The teams traded points until Montevideo won the opening set 30-28 on a Tigers hitting error.
The Tigers roared back to dominate the second set 25-13 after Montevideo had an early 7-6 lead.
Montevideo trailed 15-11 in the pivotal third set before senior Rhea Melby made three kills and an ace block to put the T-Hawks ahead 23-18. Natalie Feldhake's kill gave Montevideo the set-winning point.
The momentum was clearly on Montevideo's side now as the T-Hawks took a 10-1 in the fourth set. A big hit by Nettie Duvall pushed the lead to 16-4 and sophomore Erin Balken came off the bench to contribute some hard-to-handle serves, including an ace. The set and match ended on a Tigers error.
Ashley Hoehne had 14 kills and Duvall added 12.
Montevideo 3, GFW 0
The Thunder Hawks returned to the site of where they were eliminated from last year's section tourney, only this time Montevideo made the long bus ride back from Winthrop a happy one by sweeping second-seeded Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop on Tuesday.
In the opening set, Jessie Janisch served for six points, including two aces, as the T-Hawks took a 24-19 lead, but GFW saved four set points before Nettie Duvall's kill gave Montevideo the set 25-23.
GFW led most of the second set before Montevideo broke a 20-all tie. Ashley Hoehne's 12th kill of the match put Montevideo up 25-24 and a Thunderbirds hitting error gave the Thunder Hawks the set.
The T-Hawks led the third set 23-16 before GFW ran off four straight points. But Lindsey Olson's kill put Montevideo ahead 24-20, and Nettie Duvall ended the match with an ace serve.
Hoehne finished with 18 kills for Montevideo and six other players had between three and six kills. Montevideo missed just one serve all night, with Duvall leading the way with a pair of ace serves. Tori Kuhlmann had just one error in 124 setting opportunities and assisted on 24 kills.
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