After winning just three of their first 16 matches, the Montevideo volleyball team made a late-season surge by winning eight of their next 10 matches to advance to the Section 3AA North championship match.
The Thunder Hawks cinderella run ended Friday at Granite Falls when Marshall, the top seed in the tournament and the top-ranked team in the state in Class AA, dispatched Montevideo in three sets.
The Tigers, playing without leading hitter Kenzie Beekman, who was sidelined with a sprained ankle, moved their starting setter, Sydney Griffin, into Beekman's outside hitter spot in the rotation and she delivered match-highs of 22 kills and seven ace blocks.
The Thunder Hawks never led in any of the three sets, as the hard-hitting Tigers jumped out to leads of 10-1 in the first set, 7-1 in the second, and 4-0 in the third.
Junior Ashley Hoehne and sophomore Natalie Feldhake had five kills each for Montevideo, followed by Nettie Duvall and Alyssa Stern with four each.
"I am very happy with our season," said coach Aimee Thalberg. "Nobody thought we could go this far. We had high expectations and the girls stepped up. It was exciting to watch them improve so much since the beginning of the season. The turning point was at Benson and they continued to play strong till the last game.
"We knew Marshall was going to be difficult. We tried playing point by point. We played hard, but came up short. "
Marshall, with Beekman back in the lineup and supplying 22 kills, went on to defeat Jackson County Central 25-17, 25-18, 25-21 in the Section 3AA championship match Saturday. The defending state champion Tigers, who have now qualified for the state tournament for 12 straight seasons, will take a 26-5 record into the state tourney.