Volleyball: Goodhue falls to Mabel-Canton in sub-section semifinals
With 10 seniors, 2013 was to be the season where everything came together for the Goodhue volleyball team. The Wildcats did indeed make an impressive run through the regular season, earning a bye into the Section 1A-East quarterfinals where Goodhue topped Rushford-Peterson in four games.
But Saturday, in the semifinals, the third-seeded Wildcats ran into a buzz-saw from Mabel-Canton, falling in three sets, 25-16, 25-23, 25-20, to the seventh-ranked, and second-seeded Cougars.
“It was such a good ride,” said first-year Goodhue head coach Lindsey Mace. “Obviously, it’s my first year, but I’ve never met a group of girls more positive, more willing to work hard. They literally bettered each other every day at practice and they always came ready to go.”
Despite the loss, those seniors left an impression that the coach hope lasts for a long time.
“I think, No. 1, it helped our program because now the younger girls are saying, ‘this is how it should be, this is how Goodhue volleyball needs to be,’” Mace continued. “That commitment, that hard work ethic, whatever the case may be. This group of seniors is very special, very hard to replace.”
After a first set that saw the Cougars rip off runs of six and five points to take a 16-8 lead, Mabel-Canton opened the second set with an 8-2 run, putting Goodhue on its heels. But the Wildcats responded, eventually taking a 16-15 lead on a Jo Ellen Poncelot kill.
“The first game, I don’t know if we were scared or what, we just weren’t playing (like) ourselves,” said senior Mikayla Miller. “The second and third games, we had nothing to lose. It’s senior year, we might as well go out with a bang and give it our all because after this we’re done. That’s the really depressing thing.”
The Wildcats would surrender six of the next seven points to fall into a 21-17 hole that they could not climb out of. That led into a third set that had Goodhue having to play the aggressor as the Wildcats were down to their final set.
Goodhue did race out to a 13-7 lead in the third set, but Mabel-Canton strung together a five-point run that made the score 15-14 in favor of the Cougars. A couple of back-and-forth rallies ended when the Cougars took a 20-16 lead before the two squads traded the final three points of the match.
Miller did everything she could do to prolong the season, totaling 13 kills and 28 digs as senior setter Mikayla Tipcke added 16 digs and 34 set assists. Those two, along with classmates Meredith Watson (6 kills, 14 digs), and Kali Ryan (6 kills, 9 digs and 2 blocks) were the heart and soul of a team that will finish with a 21-8-1 record.
“We’re all emotionally and physically close, we know if you’re not going to get it and the other people will get it,” Tipcke said. “It’s crazy how it’s all seniors. Usually there’s a freshman stud, but, literally, it’s 10 solid seniors and it’s really cool to have.”