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Volleyball: New Life falls to Minneota at state

New Life Academy's Lauren Schumacher (3) and Elliana Wiertsema (4) go up to block a Minneota shot in game one of the state tournament quarterfinals Thursday, Nov. 9. John Molene / contributor1 / 4
New Life Academy's Makenzie Roettger hits past a pair of Minneota defenders in game three. John Molene / contributor 2 / 4
New Life Academy fans react with a mixture of cheers and prayers as the Eagles battle back in game three. John Molene / contributor 3 / 4
Outside hitter Elliana Wiertsema of the Eagles directs a shot to a hole in the Minneota defense in game one Thursday, Nov 9. John Molene / contributor4 / 4

Trailing two sets to none and 12-3 in the third set, the New Life Eagles Academy looked set to be beaten.

Instead, the Eagles regained their championship form and battled back first to 21-16 and then to 22-9 on a kill by Elliana Wiertsema.

The second-seeded Minneota Vikings had just enough to survive, however, winning 25-20 to advance in the Class A girls volleyball state tournament Thursday, Nov. 9, in the Xcel Energy Center.

Minneota, ranked No. 3 in Class A, won in straight sets, 25-20, 25-10 and 25-21.

New Life Academy (18-14) will play Pine River-Backus (24-7) in the consolation round Friday, starting at 3 p.m.

Minneota (28-5) advances to play third-seeded Bethlehem Academy (17-14) in the semifinals.

The tournament consolation finals, third-place match and championship will be played Saturday.

"I'm super proud of that game," said junior forward Kate Rogers, who led the Eagles with eight kills. "I'm super happy with everything that we did and the fight we put up."

New Life came into the tournament unseeded and perhaps a bit overlooked because of the team's modest win-loss record. But the Eagles convinced observers they belonged with their play against the Vikings.

"We started to block the ball a little bit better and our nerves I think we're down a little bit more," said New Life Academy coach Wally Bomgren. "I think we started a little bit nervous and it showed up in some of our ball control. It was a little more erratic than we're used to. And we kind of settled in at that point and obviously played our best volleyball in that third match."

The Eagles battled hard, but Minneota had too many weapons, led by star junior forward Lydia Sussner who totaled a whopping 21 kills.

"Give them credit, they played well," Minneota coach Hayley Fruin said of the Eagles. "They're a scrappy team."

Bethany Breiholz had 28 sets and 14 defensive digs for the Eagles. Ellianna Wiertsema had 20 digs, while Nadia Nelson and Rogers had a dozen each.

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