Vikings conquer K-M’s title hopes
The Kasson-Mantorville vollyball team entered the Minnesota Class AA State Tournament with high hopes. The KoMets entered the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with a record of 30-2 on the season and had been ranked either first or second in Class AA for the entire season. With the tournament’s top seed, the expectations were high, but the KoMets believed that if they played their game, they would have a great chance
of coming away with the program’s first state title.
The KoMets were able to accomplish half of their goals at state as they were able
to play their style of match throughout the tournament. The bad news was that just one match could change everything and that moment came in the state semifinals when North Branch was able to score an upset and leave K-M short of their championship dreams.
However, the KoMets were able to bounce back on Saturday afternoon and finish in third place for the
tournament. That finish was K-M’s best in program history.
“Obviously, it was very disappointing to not win it all,” K-M head coach Adam VanOort said. “But, it was great to see them bounce back and play very well in the third place match on Saturday and finish strong.”
Things looked great for
K-M as they took on St. Cloud Cathedral in the quarterfinals of the tournament. Heading into the tournament, VanOort warned his team that the Crusaders could be a tough out and as a result, the KoMets entered their first match with an intense focus.
“The team was able to stay loose and confident,” VanOort said. “We played some pretty clean volleyball because of it.”
The KoMets put their foot on the gas from the opening serve as they crushed St. Cloud Cathedral with a 25-11 win in the first, 25-18 in the second and 25-16 in the third to advance to Friday’s semifinal with North Branch.
The Vikings entered the semifinal with an impressive resume as their 27-4 record
was good to earn the fourth seed in the tournament. They also came in battle tested after falling down two sets to none in their first match of the tournament against fifth- seeded Watertown-Mayer, but rallying back to win in five sets.
Just like the first match, the KoMets came in focused, but the Vikings were also feeling good after their comeback victory the night before. K-M would take the first set by
a score of 25-20, but North Branch would take control of the match with a 25-20 win in the second set and a 25-11 victory in the third.
“I think we lost our poise for a couple of sets,” VanOort said of the middle of the match. “Our serve and pass struggled and that resulted in a couple of lopsided losses.”
Just like their mentality throughout the season, the KoMets relied on taking things one match at a time and one set at a time. Down 2-1 with their season on the line, the KoMets responded with a calm demeanor and forced a fifth set with a 25-17 win in the fourth.
The fifth set was a roller coaster as North Branch surged out to a 4-1 lead.
Despite being in an early hole, the KoMets would make a run of their own and the two teams would find themselves tied at 10 heading down the stretch.
A second 4-1 run for the Vikings would put K-M on the ropes and while the KoMets had one last stand in them, they couldn’t complete the comeback as the Vikings won 15-13 on their way to winning the state championship the following afternoon.
“We were able to work our way through things after the third set to win set four, but we made a couple of errors in set five,” VanOort observed. “That’s all it takes to lose to a good team.”
The disappointment was there for the KoMets, but there was still a match to be played as they took on Concordia Academy-Roseville for the honor of third place in Class AA. Just like the two nights before, the KoMets were ocused on the task at hand. While the Beacons made K-M work for every point, K-M would be on the right side of the match with two point wins in all three sets (25-23, 28-26, 26-24) to take home third place.
“I thought it showed a lot of character for them to be able to come back on Saturday and play as well as they did,” VanOort said. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to learn
from and fall back on that experience down the road when life knocks them to
the ground and they have to pick themselves back up and continue living and moving forward.”
It was a finish that the KoMets might not have expected heading into the state tournament, but it was a fitting end to a season that saw K-M rattle off a 25-match winning streak, claim the HVL Championship and win their third straight Section
1AA Championship. The third place finish was the program’s best finish ever at state and something that VanOort and the rest of the community ll
remember for a long time.