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Chris Murphy, Published November 08 2013

Marshall takes down Fergus Falls in state volleyball semifinal

ST. PAUL – Marshall’s volleyball team does not smile during warmups. The Tigers do not smile during player introductions. It’s all business for the Tigers. Their business is winning, and business is good.

Marshall will defend its state volleyball title after topping Fergus Falls 25-15, 25-14, 25-7 in the Minnesota Class 2A semifinals Friday at Xcel Energy Center.

“They just have such great options,” Fergus Falls coach Renee Erickson said. “They kept us running on the net all night. Give them a lot of credit because they passed very well out of serve receive, and tonight we did not do that well. They really served aggressive. They are hands-down the best serving team we’ve ever come across this season and probably our past seasons.”

Fergus Falls was well aware of what it was going against. Top-seeded Marshall was making its 13th consecutive appearance in the state tournament, 25th overall, was the two-time defending Class 2A champion and had won 17 in a row, dropping just three sets during the streak.

“We watched them play for the last 13 years as coaches, and we watched them play this season,” Erickson said. “We knew how tough they were. They really challenged our back row to set up an attack, and we really struggled to run an attack. We were out of sync a lot.”

Fergus Falls as a team had 19 kills.

Marshall (31-3) outside hitter Kenzie Beekman, who is headed to Southwest Minnesota State to play volleyball next year, had 19 kills. Teammate and University of North Dakota commit Sydney Griffin finished with 11 kills, 19 assists, nine digs and two blocks.

She got to experience what life may be like for the next few years, squaring off against Fergus Falls setter and North Dakota State commit Brianna Rasmusson.

“It was competitive,” Griffin said. “It’ll be fun to face her in the future. She’s very athletic. She can play any position on the court, so she’ll be tough. She’s a tough competitor. We stayed really focused on all three games and came out strong.”

Rasmusson had a quiet game by her standards, finishing with three kills, 14 assists and six digs.

“I’m excited to face her again,” Rasmusson said. “She’s a good player. I’ve actually been to some camps with her before, but this was the first time I played against her. They are scrappy and have good defense, and they also have some great hitters. They played really well tonight.”

Rasmusson is not ready to think about college. She’s still trying to finish her high school career with a win.

“We just have to shake it off and play the last game of the season like we’ve been playing all season,” Rasmusson said. “I obviously want to finish out my high school career strong.”

Fergus Falls (26-7) will play for third place at 1 p.m. today at Xcel Energy Center.

F (kills-blocks-aces): Rasmusson 3-1-1 (14 assists), Boese 0-1-0, Gaustad 8-0-2, Traiser 4-0-0, Monke 4-1-0, Reinertson 0-1-0, Smith 0-0-0 (9 digs).

M: Griffin 11-2-0, Saugstad 4-1-0, Graff 6-0-3, Beekman 19-0-2 (10 digs), Mulso 6-3-0, Sanow 1-1-1 (22 assists), Bennett 1-0-2

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548