ROCHESTER — For the second time in three years, Red Wing will have a chance to win some hardware. The third-seeded Wingers upset second-seeded St. Charles on Saturday, winning the Sub-section 1AA-East semifinal match 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 25-22).
Red Wing's back row defense, especially its serve-receive passing, was a major part of the victory. The Wingers had five players with double-digit digs, with Madisyn Lyons and Vanessa Frazier leading the way with 25 each, while Dani Deming had 19, and Macy Koester and Kate Sonju each had 15.
That kept the offense humming, which Koester facilitated with 41 assists.
"(The defense) gave us a bunch of opportunities to attack," said Wingers head coach Dave Lyons. "Very rarely were we scrambling, most of the time we passed it up (to the setter) and we transitioned out and attack. That's the name of the game, especially as we're trying to run a faster offense now than we were at the beginning of the season."
The only time Red Wing had major trouble was when they got out of rhythm. In the second set, the Wingers were up 21-17, but a passing error and three hitting errors gave St. Charles a 24-21 lead on their way to evening the match.
But Red Wing was quick to regroup, and the front row started to make noise. Abi Deming had a pair of ace blocks in the third, and Lyons closed the set with three of her 25 kills. Throw in two blocks from Sonju and an ace from Dani Deming, and the Wingers had little trouble getting back their match lead.
"Our front row was really, really good," Abi said. "And the back row was really good, and they should not go unrecognized."
The fourth featured Red Wing's best, as the Wingers jumped out to leads of 10-5 and 19-9. The Saints then used a couple of Red Wing errors and started to claw back into the game. Elie Welch, who had 23 kills for St. Charles, got a couple of clean looks in that span, and the Saints won 10 of the next 13 points.
But Red Wing was able to shrug off the challenge, and the celebration began when a St. Charles pass sailed out of bounds for the final point.
Now the Wingers will play for the sub-section title, and the spot in the section championship that comes with it. Top-seeded Plainview-Elgin-Millville, who battled for three long sets to oust fourth-seeded Winona Cotter, stands in the way of Red Wing's goal of facing the West champion. The 1AA-East championship match will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday back in Rochester.
"We're going to start going after it on Monday," Dave Lyons said. "We'll work a little more on our offense, and hopefully on Thursday we come and play another great game."