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Chris Murphy, Published October 25 2013

Moorhead volleyball headed to the section quarterfinals after sweep of Big Lake

MOORHEAD – Moorhead outside hitter Alyssa LaFlamme’s celebration of a point by the Spuds on the volleyball court is something to behold.

It doesn’t matter how the point is scored or who the player is that is scoring it. Both of LaFlamme’s arms will spring into the air, as if they were pulled on by a string, yanking her upper body back, while her face lights up as she screams. It makes Olivia Ostlie happy she’s on her team.

“If I were on the other team, I’d be scared,” said Ostlie, who finished with a match-high eight kills in Moorhead’s sweep Friday. “She’s definitely one of our most animated players on the team.”

Regardless of how animated LaFlamme is, Friday’s 25-6, 25-13, 25-11 sweep of Big Lake put No. 2-seeded Moorhead into the Minnesota Class 3A, Section 8 semifinals and provided plenty to celebrate for the Spuds.

The Spuds had lost in the section quarterfinals the last two seasons and return to the section semifinals for the first time since winning the section in 2010. Plus, celebrating like LaFlamme is a pretty good workout.

“If it keeps her fluid because she’s working those abs and it gives her a nice step over the top, I’m all for it,” Moorhead coach Char Lien said. “She’s bought into that celebration factor. We have a tendency in our society to look at the negative, negative, negative all the time, so why not accentuate the positive.”

Although there isn’t much tape to review, with Friday’s match lasting all of 48 minutes, LaFlamme is well aware of how she looks in her celebration. She’s just not sure how it happens.

“People make comments about it all the time,” LaFlamme said. “I don’t really notice it because I’m caught up in the moment. It’s just a reaction. I do like to watch it on tape though because it is funny.”

Big Lake (13-17) may have played Wednesday, but Moorhead made the Hornets look rusty in the first set. The Spuds opened with an 18-2 run and never looked back.

“You always have to come to play in sections because this is crunch time,” said LaFlamme, who finished with seven kills five aces and a block. “If you lose, your season comes to an end. We came out ready to play, and we decided to have fun and play as a team. That’s really going to make us strong and hard to beat.”

In Set 2, Big Lake led 2-1, but would never lead again, cutting the Moorhead lead to 11-8 before the Spuds closed the set on a 14-5 run.

“This was our first playoff game, so you never know how many jitters you’re going to have,” Lien said. “I was very happy how strong we started, and they just kept rolling. It would have been very easy to let up and take that foot off the gas pedal. They just wanted to keep pushing.”

Big Lake led 1-0 in Set 3 then fell behind for good, as Moorhead (16-11) answered with an 8-0 run and rolled from there. The Spuds will host familiar foe Bemidji (15-13) at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a spot in the section championship. LaFlamme is more than happy to scare the Lumberjacks with her point celebration.

“Bemidji is a huge rival, and it’s always a big game,” LaFlamme said. “We are definitely ready to go after it. I think we can really take our section.”

B (kills-blocks-aces): Lund 3-0-0, Sayler 5-0-0 (11 digs), Geroux 2-1-0, Deuel 2-0-0, Arbogast 2-0-0, Peterson 1-3-0, Murnane 0-0-0 (8 assists),

M: Lund 0-0-1, Gunkel 0-0-4 (22 assists), Johnson 2-1-1, Uglem 2-0-2, Tollefson 3-2-0, Carney 2-3-0, Ostlie 8-1-0, Gulseth 0-0-0 (9 digs), LaFlamme 7-1-5.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548