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Published November 07 2010

High school volleyball playoffs: Ada-Borup on way to state

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. – There’s climbing the mountain and then there’s going against a front line that’s built like one.

Injuries were something to work past for the Ada-Borup volleyball team. On Saturday so was Hancock’s height.

And like those injuries, Hancock’s height was just another obstacle to overcome en route to the Cities with Ada-Borup coming back from a Game 1 loss to win 23-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-18 to win the Minnesota Class A Section 6 volleyball championships. Ada-Borup will open Thursday against an opponent that will be announced.

Ada-Borup (25-6) returns to the state tournament for the first time since 2008 and for the fifth time in program history. Hancock (27-2-1) ends the season with its 23-game winning streak snapped.

“It was something that took a lot of hard work,” said Cougars coach Ruth Hayden about advancing to the state tournament. “Our girls worked really hard overcoming the injuries that we faced this year.”

So it should really come as no surprise that the Cougars had to overcome a few more things to reach the ultimate stage.

For starters, take the Hancock front line boasting three players 5-11 or taller. Then there’s the Game 1 loss.

Hancock was able to use its height in that first game and eked out a two-point win.

“What we did is we made some adjustments,” said Ada-Borup hitter Tiffany Strand. “We talked about keeping our composure and making a comeback.”

If anyone was the embodiment of the comeback, it was surely Strand.

Strand, at 5-10, is normally the tallest player on the court but tonight she, like her team, had to make an adjustment.

The junior transitioned from trying to power all her kills to using Hancock’s height against them by dropping the soft kill in a spot where there was no help.

It was a trend that started to catch on. Three games later, it was the trend that helped the Cougars advance to state.

“It feels great,” Strand said. “I’m really excited about going down to the Cities and seeing what happens.”

Ada-Borup’s last trip resulted in a first-round win but losing in the second. The goal is to have a better and longer trip to St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center.

Surely some of those Ada-Borup fans will make the trip. A second barely passed after the Cougars were awarded the section title before the student section mobbed the court.

On the other end, Hancock was left to ponder what could have been in what was one of the school’s stronger if not strongest season.

Hancock coach Kristi Fehr, who finishes her 15th year, said she loses three players and believes her team will be back next season.

“What we have to do to get back here,” Feher said. “is we’ve just got to find people to fill in those roles for next year.”

HANCOCK (kills-blocks-aces): Nelson 5-0-1, Brown 0-0-1, Schmidgall 26-0-1, Reese 13-0-2, Greiner 10-0-0, Kuehl 0-0-1, Walstad 0-1-0 (43 assists).

ADA-BORUP: Kolness 12-1-0 (21 assists; 19 digs), M. Kolness 12-1-2 (23 assists), Strand 21-2-0, Narum 6-0-0 (23 digs), Steen 1-1-0, Ruebke 0-0-1.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548