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Robert Williams / Forum News Service, Published October 31 2013

Ada-Borup sweeps New York Mills for berth in section volleyball final

HAWLEY, Minn. – The experienced Ada-Borup Cougars defended their top seeding in the South subsection of the Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6 volleyball tournament with a sweep of No. 2 New York Mills on Thursday.

Ada-Borup won 25-12, 25-15, 25-23.

The Cougars did not trail in the first set, cruising to a 13-point win. Lexi Merkens, who led the Cougars with 17 kills, put the first set away at 25-12.

“We knew we had to come out relaxed,” Merkens said. “Our first game of the playoffs we were really tight and we knew that would not work tonight, so we came out really relaxed and wanted to have fun tonight.”

“A credit to our kids,” Cougars head coach Ruth Hayden said. “They know this atmosphere, and if you can play relaxed, good things are going to happen.”

After a 10-all tie in the second set, Ada-Borup went on a 15-5 run to go up two sets to none. The set ended on a service error by New York Mills.

The Eagles had a distinct advantage in height, but the back row of the Cougars played consistently, keeping balls alive from heavy hitters Ellie and Lydia Rutten, along with New York Mills’ two seniors Tori Kempenich and Taylor Plautz.

Four Cougars were in double figures in digs. Shaina Stevenson led Ada-Borup with 24, Monica Vega had 23 and Emiley Lindell’s 19, all three seniors, along with freshman Emma Kroshus with 10.

New York Mills settled down in the third set and led 16-13 midway and closed to trailing by one point 23-22 and 24-23 before the Cougars put the match away.

“We’re used to this court and atmosphere, so we know what it’s like, and I don’t think they know it as much, so that helped too,” said Merkens.

New York Mills ends its season with a record of 20-6. The loss snapped a nine-match win streak for the Eagles.

“I’m happy with the progress our girls have made,” Eagles head coach Angie Paavola said. “Twenty wins, coming from zero and nine and 14. … They are tremendous. We knew this was going to be tough. We didn’t play our best in Games 1 and 2, and we finally got started, and it was just a few points too late.”

Ada-Borup improves to 22-8 and has dropped only one set in its last four matches. The Cougars will face the top seed from the North subsection Henning (26-5) on Saturday in Glenwood for the section championship.

AB (kills-blocks-aces): Merkens 17-2-0, Lindell 7-0-1, Eggen 6-1-0, Lee 5-2-0, Poehler 4-2-0, Stanger 1-1-0, Stevenson 1-0-0 (24 assists), Vega 0-0-0 (23 digs), Kroshus 0-1-0.

NYM: Statistics unavailable.

Williams is the sports editor for the Perham Focus