K-M finishes fifth at state
One of the phrases that Kasson-Mantorville volleyball coach Adam VanOort reiterates throughout every season is that volleyball is an uneven sport. In every match, there are multiple ups and downs that a team has to get through to get to their final goal. Sometimes, that means playing one of the better matches of the year, but coming up short and wondering what could have been.
The KoMets know that feeling better than ever after their trip to the state tournament as they outplayed the Academy of Holy Angels in almost every facet during a Class AA Quarterfinal matchup, but fell in five sets to end their dreams of a state championship.
“If you look at it on paper, there’s no way you lose that match,” VanOort said. “That’s just part of the game.”
K-M had one of its most consistent efforts in the season in this match as they outscored Holy Angels 107-94, wound up with more aces and had less errors. However, the set format was something that helped keep the Stars in it even as the KoMets made things difficult.
After jumping out to a 25-15 win in the first set, K-M battled but couldn’t pull off a victory in the second set by falling 25-22. The KoMets would swing momentum back their way in the third set, racing to another big lead and dominating the Stars to put them on the ropes with a 25-14 victory.
That’s where things became intense as the two teams battled back and forth in the fourth set. With the Stars facing elimination, they would answer the bell and make just enough plays to edge out the KoMets who couldn’t close out despite a late run. The 25-22 win would force a deciding fifth set with the season on the line.
“We won a nice third set and I think that both teams played well in the fourth,” VanOort observed. “They just started to pass better and get more of their hitters involved.”
K-M and Holy Angels would go back and forth in the final frame as they gridlocked to a 10-10 score. At that point, the KoMets ran into some bad luck with some calls going the wrong way and found themselves in a 14-11 hole.
“That’s just part of the game,” VanOort reiterated. “It’s really unlucky to not only have one call go your way, but have three of them in a five-point stretch. That happens, but you just hope it doesn’t happen in that situation.”
Although K-M would make the Stars sweat with a couple consecutive points, it couldn’t climb the final hurdle and Holy Angels would advance with a 15-13 victory to advance in the state tournament. Even with the disappointment that their players felt after the defeat, VanOort let them know how proud he was of his efforts and they could still make an impact on the tournament.
“I preach all year long that we don’t base our success on wins and losses, but it’s how well we compete,” VanOort said. “I thought we achieved competitive excellence in all three matches we played at state, so even after that Holy Angels match, I told them I was proud of them. It hurt like heck to lose that match the way we did, but I certainly think they held up their end of the bargain and competed at a high level all weekend long.”
Off the performance against Holy Angels, the KoMets did a great job turning those negative feelings into a positive. They avenged a regular season loss to Kenyon-Wanamingo in the consolation semifinals with a 3-1 victory on November 10 and captured the consolation championship with a sweep of Roseau the following afternoon. The accomplishment of being the fifth-best team in the state was something that kept the KoMets’ heads held high at the end of the tournament.
“We played well,” VanOort said. “I would say that we played three out of the best five matches we’ve had all year at the state tournament. That’s what you want at the end of the year.”