Volleyball: Cannon Falls closes season with loss to Kasson-Mantorville
ROCHESTER – The final score will read three games to none, but the match was much better than that. The second set, in particular, was a win for Kasson-Mantorville, and a loss for Cannon Falls. But it was much more than that. Thursday’s Section 1AA-West championship game won’t have the Bombers participating, but the hugs and the tears said as much.
After the KoMets finished off a 25-17, 26-24, 25-20 victory at the Mayo Civic Center arena, Cannon Falls head volleyball coach Melissa Huseth took a few seconds, or a few minutes, whatever was needed, to try and console her players, six of whom saw their careers come to a close Saturday afternoon.
Nearly 15 minutes passed by the time Huseth emerged from the locker room, and her first words were a thank you to the fans and parents assembled by the doors of the arena. The Bombers had their chances to take down the No. 3 ranked team in the state. But it just wasn’t meant to be.
“I thought these girls played their hearts out today,” Huseth said. “I am so incredibly proud of their effort, they never gave up. They continued to swing, they identified those two main hitters that (K-M) had, they had those amazing digs in the back row, we had some blocks on them, I just feel that my girls played tremendously today. I’m very proud of them.”
The KoMets, who beat the Bombers 3-0 earlier this year, controlled the first set, took a commanding 17-11 lead with a six-point run midway through the opening game. But the Bombers were able to respond in the second set, scoring the first three points en route to a 6-2 lead.
But K-M fought back to take a 10-8 lead behind stellar hitting from Brooklyn Lewis, who finished with a match-high 19 kills, and Hailey Busch, who added her own 12 kills.
But the Bombers would not back down. Hailey Huseth and Lydia Franken fed Carly Broze and Katie Noble, which kept Cannon Falls in the game. And when the Bombers took a 24-23 lead, and the KoMets took a timeout, evening the match was more than a possibility, it was a near certainty.
But K-M, like a top-three team is wont to do, did not cave. Instead, the KoMets reeled off three straight points to take a commanding 2-0 lead, and left the Bombers gasping for life.
“I thought we had it,” Broze said, “I thought we had it for sure. But we just didn’t rack up the points right then and there when we needed to. We all stayed together, which is great. This is one of those teams that stays together forever, and I’ll always stay with them.”
Said Huseth, “I felt that our girls are (well) conditioned, and I just tried to say, ‘Hey, it takes three sets to win a match and we have to come out strong in this third set and out play them, point for point. We have to work harder than them all the time. We have to pick up balls in the back court, don’t let anything drop and eventually they’re going to get tired.”
But the KoMets did not wilt. Every time the Bombers made a push in the final set, K-M responded. Broze got two of her five kills early in that final frame, but the KoMets came right back. Of Noble’s five kills, none came in the third while Leah Myers added one of her four kills.
Franken had four ace serves to go along with her 14 assists, and Hailey Huseth added three aces to her 13 assists. Noble led the team in blocks with three while Becca Vandenheuvel paced the Bombers with 24 digs.
The KoMets continued to pressure the Bombers, and it paid off as K-M took a 15-13 lead. After a Cannon Falls timeout, K-M came back and scored five straight points. Though it didn’t seal the match, it was too much for the Bombers.
“That kind of took us out for a few points there, and gave them enough of a lead that we really had to claw our way back,” Melissa Huseth said. “We played great at the end, but we let them get a few too many points ahead of us in that third set.”
The Bombers end the season 18-10-2 while Kasson-Matorville (25-5-0) moves on to face No. 2-ranked Stewartville in the sub-section final. It’s a match the Bombers would like to appear in. But the reality, of playing in one of the toughest sections in the state, won’t let that happen this year.
“Our sub-section is incredibly deep,” Huseth said. “At our last conference and section meeting … (Stewartville head coach) John Dzubay brought up the fact that there are some sections out there that do a super seed. They look at all 16 teams in the section and rank them … But we don’t. By far, and there are some really good teams in that other sub-section, but by far, we have got the top teams in our sub-section. And it really is unfortunate for our girls that, right away, teams get knocked out.
“Kasson and Stewartville are tremendous teams, and one of them is going to be knocked out. That should be a section final game, not the sub-section game.”