Players for unseeded Medford stepped onto the court Thursday at Xcel Energy Center as volleyball state tournament rookies.
The Tigers left with a 3-2 upset of two-time defending Class 1A champion Mayer Lutheran.
"Medford has always been seen as the underdog in everything," said junior Emma Kniefel, who had a game-high 21 kills. "I don't think it's hit any of us yet."
The Tigers (28-5) came back for a 25-18, 14-25, 21-25, 25-15, 19-17 victory over No. 2 seed Mayer Lutheran (21-10). With her team trailing 2-1, Medford coach Missy Underdahl talked with her players about how they deserved to be at the tournament and weren't going down without a fight.
"We started getting really complacent with our offense," Underdahl said. "We weren't moving the ball around."
In the fourth set the Tigers jumped to a 6-0 lead and stayed out front to force a back-and-forth final set that was clinched by two kills from sophomore Kinsey Cronin.
"I felt pressure for sure, but I just tried to not show it," said Mayer Lutheran junior Olivia Tjernagel, who finished with 16 kills and 13 blocks.
Mayer Lutheran coach Joelle Grimsley said her team "didn't do two good things in a row. We could never get a run."
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 3, New Life Academy 0: The No. 3 seed from Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa won the first two sets without a problem before getting down 7-0 to start the third. Again, no problem. The Jaguars (27-4) responded with a 13-0 run to coast to a 25-12, 25-20, 25-15 sweep over unseeded New Life Academy (19-11). Senior Allison Gruber led the Jaguars with 16 kills and 11 digs. They had 46 kills to just 23 for New Life.
Gruber credited sophomore setter Karsee Kampsen for the run in the third: "She served well, and that's what really turned our game around."
Coach Kevin Weller praised Gruber as well, saying she "doesn't give herself enough credit there. She's been one of our team leaders, and she got in that huddle and she just started talking to everybody: 'We're fine. … All it takes is one ball, and we're good to go.' "
Minneota 3, New York Mills 0: The top-seeded Vikings battled through two sets, then dominated New York Mills (29-3) in the third, advancing to the semifinals with a 25-14, 26-24, 25-7 victory.
Lydia Sussner, a Ms. Volleyball finalist, had 15 kills for the Vikings (34-1) and Morgan Kockelman notched 29 assists.
After Minneota's comfortable first-set victory, New York Mills (29-3) made a run in the second set before falling.
Ada-Borup/Norman County West 3, Carlton 1: The two teams split the first two sets by identical scores but things changed in the third set thanks to a 10-3 run by Ada-Borup, which went on to win the set 25-20. The Cougars built on that inertia to take the fourth set for a 27-25, 25-27, 25-20, 25-12 victory.
Kora Kritzberger has 21 kills and 18 digs, and Bailee Brommenschenkel added 17 kills for the No. 4-seeded Cougars (31-1).
Abigail Mickle led Carlton (28-3) with 17 kills.