Concordia Academy played like it had nothing to lose against top-seeded Kenyon-Wanamingo, pulling off a five-set upset to return to the Class 2A volleyball state tournament championship game for the second consecutive year.
"We knew that the pressure was on Kenyon-Wanamingo mostly," said senior Erin Fallert after the fourth-seeded Beacons defeated the Knights in a back-and-forth thriller, 25-17, 19-25, 29-27, 22-25, 15-10.
The Beacons (26-7) grabbed the first set, which gave them confidence and kept them fired up, according to Fallert, who had a team-leading seven kills in the set.
"They didn't let us get on any runs," said Knights senior Mia Peterson. "We just couldn't respond."
Kenyon-Wanamingo (33-2) came back to win the second set. In the third set the Beacons built a 22-14 advantage and looked to be on their way to a victory.
But then the Knights took over. They went on a 10-1 run that included three consecutive kills from Mara Quam, who had 12 kills in the set, to take a 24-23 lead. The Beacons responded with kills of their own to hold on for the 29-27 win and go up two sets to one.
In the fourth set, the Knights built a comfortable lead before the Beacons went on a 7-0 run for an 18-18 tie. But Quam rotated back up to the front and registered another four kills in the final six points to push the match to a deciding fifth set.
The Beacons look to finish one victory better than last year, when they finished as the Class 1A runner-up.
"We're going to come in a lot more confident and ready to battle," Fallert said.
Maple Lake 3, Kasson-Mantorville 1: The second-seeded Irish rolled to a 23-25, 25-19, 25-17, 25-15 victory over the third-seeded KoMets.
The Irish (29-3) were up 22-18 in the first set before the KoMets (22-12) went on a 7-1 run to grab the first set 25-23. After that first set, the Irish talked about some of the errors they had, according to Maple Lake coach Marty Kiebel. They also kept their heads up, Maple Lake senior Olivia Marquette said.
"It's not over after one match," Marquette said. "You still have to race to 25 for each game. You have to fight for the win."
Then the Irish took the second set and didn't surrender much from there. They used a late 8-0 run to give them the momentum for the third set.
Lindsey Rachel led the Irish with 20 kills. Peyton Suess had 17 kills for the KoMets.