ROCHESTER — At the beginning of October, Cannon Falls fought Kasson-Mantorville for three sets. The KoMets would end up with the sweep, but the Bombers had at least 21 points in all three games.
On Saturday, the two met up again, 25 days after the regular season meeting. K-M would again win in three sets, this time in the Sub-section 1AA-West semifinals, but Cannon Falls was even better this time around.
"The first time, to be honest, we didn't play well. But they didn't have Peyton (Suess), either," said Bombers head coach Melissa Huseth. "I still believe that we have the better defense. Not to say that K-M has a poor defense. But they have some really fantastic hitters in Emilee Terry and Peyton, and they just found the court in so many different places ... They were the better team, but we played much better than what the score shows."
Suess was more than just on the court on Saturday. The K-M junior registered 20 kills on a pair of blocks, while Terry had nine kills and two blocks. The KoMets also had nine other blocks from other players, a clear sign that the height advantage was clearly not in Cannon Falls' favor.
That forced the Bombers to speed up their offense, and that comes with its own issues.
"The problem with a quicker offense is there's going to be more errors because the setter and the hitter have to continue to connect," Huseth said. "Our outsides got some more kills at the end as we did speed up. The insides have had a high kill percentage this season, and we tried to get them the ball more. But our outsides were the ones scoring, and maybe we should have switched earlier in the match."
After K-M took the first set, 25-19, Cannon Falls came back to take a 4-2 lead in the second. But it didn't last long as the KoMets surged ahead 11-7, then 19-12. The Bombers got a three-point run at that point, but could not pull closer than four points as K-M took a two-set lead with a 25-20 win.
The third was tight most of the way until the KoMets turned a 12-10 lead into a 22-15 advantage. Again, Cannon Falls got a short, three-point run, but K-M closed it out with three-straight of its own.
The Bombers final record will stand at 16-14. Cannon Falls is unlucky in that it is in the West, where traditionally the top four teams in the section reside, and in that the team lost a key player early.
Huseth can't control either one of those things, but she did lead a short-handed team to an above-.500 record and a playoff victory.
"This has been a wonderful season. We lost senior Grace Hall in the first match of the season, and she's been a player for me since she was a freshman. We started out kind of shaky," Huseth said. "But we had so much growth this season. This was a winnable match, but we didn't. I'm walking out of this gym with my head held high because I'm proud of what we did."