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Volleyball: Stewartville ousts Cannon Falls from 1AA-West playoffs

ROCHESTER - In so many ways, taking on No. 3-ranked Stewartville is a tall task for any team.

There's a starting lineup that stands at an average of 5-foot-10. There is Hall of Fame head coach John Dzubay. There are twin sisters Hannah and Paige Tapp, who are both headed to the University of Minnesota to play volleyball.

After playing tough with the Tigers earlier this year, the Cannon Falls Bombers believed that they could go toe-to-toe with Stewartville in the Section 1AA-West semifinals. But by the end of Saturday's match, the Tigers were the ones that were standing tall, knocking the Bombers out of the playoffs with a 25-16, 25-22, 25-15 victory at the Mayo Civic Center.

"The girls played well," Cannon Falls head coach Melissa Huseth said after the loss. "I told them in the locker room that they're all players of the game. They're a team that worked so well with each other and they're always so happy for each other."

After its first meeting with Cannon Falls, Dzubay said his players knew they were in for a tough, defensive-minded Bombers team.

"They're a good, young team, and their defense was really good," Dzubay said. "They were tough that first time around."

After the Bombers tied the first set at 7, the Tigers rattled off seven points to go up 14-7. In their previous encounter, Hannah Tapp missed the contest due to injury. In the sub-section semifinals Saturday, Paige and Hannah Tapp dominated at the net, finishing with 31 combined kills.

"With those two, their wingspan is like half the net," Huseth said. "There's so much ground to cover on the block."

Aided by kills from Hailey Huseth, Carly Broze and MaKenzie Franklin, the Bombers jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the second set. Using its size, Stewartville climbed back to take the lead at 13-12. Cannon Falls would tie the match back up at 14-14, before the Tigers took the lead for good with a kill by Hannah Tapp.

"In the first set, we passed the ball really well, but then we became predictable," Dzubay said. "Late in (the second set), we were able to find some consistency."

Like their first match against Stewartville, the Bombers were down after missing out on their opportunity to tie the match.

"We needed them to feel out of control, and we could have done that if we had won that set," Melissa Huseth said. "Who knows what could have happened if we took that game."

With a 2-0 lead, Stewartville took firm control of the third set, scoring four of the first five points.

The Tigers never trailed in the set on the way to securing a berth in the sub-section finals against No. 1 seed Kasson-Mantorville on Thursday.

"We played pretty well," Dzubay said, "but we'll need to play even better next time against Kasson."

Broze led Cannon Falls' attack with nine kills, while Lydia Franken and Hailey Huseth each finished with 10 set assists. Libero Becca Vandenheuvel tallied 21 digs as the Bombers close the year out at 23-6 overall.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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