Southwest Christian reached the finals for the first time. Bethlehem Academy is an odd story.
Southwest Christian swept Minneota 25-11, 25-19, 25-17 in the Class 1A semifinals Friday at Xcel Energy Center, but it wasn't without some drama -- albeit, just a bit.
After dominating Game 1, Southwest Christian trailed 18-15 in the second game. Minneota controlled the ball and the momentum. Then senior hitter Mackenzie Horkey drilled a shot through the Minneota defense. It gave the Stars the serve, and they never looked back.
Chaska-based Southwest Christian finished Game 2 on a 10-1 run, cruised through the third game and advanced to the state championship match for the first time in school history.
"We knew that if it was tied going into Game 3 that we'd have a battle on our hands," Stars head coach Greg Sayuk said. "The girls played well enough, and we were lucky to get that one in three [games]."
Horkey had 23 kills and served for eight straight points in the second.
"We all stayed calm and did our own parts," Horkey said. "We fought hard and didn't back down."
Sophomore Taylor Reiss had 14 kills for Minneota, which lost in the state semifinals for the second consecutive season.
Bethlehem Academy 3, Win-E-Mac 0: The Cardinals will get a chance to break their recent pattern of only winning state championships in odd-numbered years.
Bethlehem Academy topped No. 5 seed Win-E-Mac 25-9, 25-11, 25-11 in the other semifinal.
The victory keeps Bethlehem Academy a perfect 18-0 in games in this postseason and advances the No. 1 seed in its 10th state championship in 11 years.
A 17-1 first-game run by the Cardinals set the tone for a one-sided match. Even Win-E-Mac's quality shots weren't good enough at times. Trailing 20-5 in the opener, the Patriots' Korbyn Ross was blocked by Lauren Mathews at the net and the ball ricocheted into her face. Ross shook it off to finish with six kills and 11 digs. Shelby Kaster also had six kills and 12 digs for Win-E-Mac.
"It really gave us the momentum and put pressure them on them. It put them in a tight spot," said Mathews, who had eight kills, four blocks and three digs. "They were pretty scrappy, but we were smarter. We knew where to put the ball [Friday]."
Maddie Borwege had a game-high 15 kills for Bethlehem Academy. Jessie Mathews added 11 kills and 11 digs for the Cardinals while Payton Nutter contributed 32 assists and seven digs.