HIBBING — The Hibbing High School volleyball team will be heading into the Section 7AAA playoffs on a two-game winning streak, but the Bluejackets had to work for it.
Duluth Marshall came in with a scrappy team and took Hibbing to five sets, but the Bluejackets prevailed 3-2, 25-19, 23-25, 22-25, 25-13, 15-9 victory Tuesday at the Lincoln Elementary School Gymnasium.
The outcome was in doubt until the final point was scored, but Hibbing coach Lauren Peterson knew how important this win would be.
“It’s important to give us a little boost,” Peterson said. “We have a long break, so we’ll have to go back and remember this win, then go forward in the playoffs.”
It looked like a Bluejacket sweep after they won set one, but the Hilltoppers had other ideas when they came back and took set two.
“The second set was important because it was the energy flip our girls needed,” Nelson said. “That helped our momentum move up. We were playing scrappy. We were working hard to not let the ball touch the ground.
“We kept up with them, but unfortunately, we didn’t come through in the end. Other than that, it was a lot of fun.”
Set No. 3 looked to be a Hibbing win as it got out to a 6-0 lead, then 8-1.
It was 21-15 Bluejackets, but some off-speed hits and some well-placed serves pull Marshall into a 22-22 tie.
The Hilltoppers would get the next three points to lead 2-1.
“They had to be strategic with how they tried to receive the sideout,” Nelson said. “When they did, that gave them the momentum to push through and keep going. They just had to get a sideout, and serves are important for our team.
“When we have a consistent game of serving that helps us be competitive with other teams. We were on with our serves today, so that was good.”
Hibbing was getting frustrated.
“I honestly think that they put it into spots where we were slow to get to,” Peterson said. “It wasn’t that they put it into spots where we weren’t, but we were slow to get to them. The frustration level was high.
“We can’t combat each other. We have to play together.”
The tables turned 180-degrees in set four as Hibbing jumped out to a 16-6 lead.
This time, the Bluejackets didn’t let the lead slip away.
“It was our defense,” Peterson said. “We were slow on our feet, then we picked up our defense, realizing that we still had to play defense, too, not just offense.”
That set the stage for the match-deciding Set No. 5, which started off with both teams exchanging points until it 7-7.
Needless to say, Peterson got a little nervous at that time.
Marshall would take a 9-8 lead, which made Peterson a little nervous.
“I get concerned,” Peterson said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this games going to be over like that if we don’t pick it up.’”
With Lucy Gabrielson on the service, Hibbing would got the next three points to take an 11-9 lead.
“I’m hoping that we can keep some positive energy because one point in a tight game like that can completely change the game,” Nelson said. “It did. We kept up with them, but once they got those points, it flipped on us.”
Gabrielson served up the next four points to seal the deal. Ariana Jaynes and Bailey Broker did have kills in that run.
“That was important to stay focused in a game like that,” Peterson said. “To finish it out to 15 is huge. Lucy did a great job back there serving. That’s a lot of pressure. She did it well.”
Hibbing was led by Julia Flaten with eight assists and two digs; Kylee Huusko with six aces, 11 digs, nine kills and one block; Bella Scaia with two aces and 13 digs; Jerzie Gustafson with two aces, four digs, four kills and two assists; Jaynes with two aces, seven digs and 12 kills; Broker with three digs, 11 kills and three blocks; Gabrielson with one ace, two digs, one kill and three blocks; and Zoe Kriske with five aces, seven digs, three kills and 21 assists.
“The importance of this win is that it was the seniors’ last home game,” Peterson said. “Just to get this win solidifies that we’re still in this, we still have a chance. It should give them that little edge.”
Marshall got 39 digs and four aces from Lydia Bacigalupo; 16 digs and four aces from Hailey Cummins; five digs, one block and five kills from Kyla Rosman; three kills, two blocks and three aces from Anna Heeren; 23 digs, six kills and nine aces from Addi Stauber; 14 digs, two assists and four kills from Katie Jugovich; 14 digs, three assists, one kill, two blocks and two aces from Ada Skafte; two blocks from Maritsa Harris; and one dig and one block from Dasia Starks.
AITKIN — The Raiders got 10 kills, 10 digs and four blocks from Bri Miller en route to the 3-0, 25-13, 25-20, 25-13 sweep of the Gobbler Tuesday on the road.
Lexi Hammer had 29 assists; Emma Markovich nine kills and 15 digs; Krya Williams 16 digs; Ava Johnson 10 kills and six digs; and Jocelyn Mikulich seven digs.
Littlefork-Big Falls 0
LITTLEFORK — The Bluestreaks got 10 kills, one block and eight digs from Lola Huhta en route to the 235-17, 25-13, 25-16 sweep of the Vikings Tuesday.
Abby Duchene had four kills; Olivia Hutchings five kills; Jordan Temple three kills, 23 assists, 10 digs and two aces; and Gabby Walters seven digs.
Littlefork-Big Falls was led by Destiny Piekarski with 11 kills and three blocks; Karlie Gustafson seven assists; and Megan Galusha three aces.