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Ellie Rutten battles two Cougars at the net in the 6A South Subsection Final at Hawley Thursday. Robert Williams/FOCUS

Top-seeded Cougars eliminate Eagles 3-0

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HAWLEY — The experienced Ada-Borup Cougars defended their top seeding in the South subsection of Minnesota Section 6A in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-23) sweep of No. 2 New York Mills in volleyball action Thursday evening.

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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,” Cougar Head Coach Ruth Hayden said. “They know this atmosphere and if you can play relaxed good things are going to happen.”

Lexi Merkens

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.

“Monica Vega is a super passer in the back row,” Hayden said. “But our little freshman Emma Kroshus is doing a great job. That was a major change for us in mid-September that was very helpful. Emiley Lindell really had a nice night tonight defensively and offensively, but I thought our hitters up front kept going aggressive, which we need to do and we just kind of tore their defense apart the best that we could.”

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.

“We’ve had quite a season, very inconsistent, kind of rollercoaster; we didn’t get our starting lineup until mid-October,” said Hayden. Some kids really stepped it up and started to perform.”

New York Mills ends their 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. “20 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 one and two and we finally got started and it was just a few points too late.”

Ada-Borup improves to 22-8 and have dropped only one set in their last four matches. The Cougars will face the top seed from the North subsection Henning (26-5) Saturday, Nov. 2 in Glenwood for the Section 6A championship.

Game statistics:

Ada-Borup 3, New York Mills 1 (25-12, 25-15, 25-23)

A-B (kills-blocks-aces): Merkens (17-0-2) (9 assists), Lindell (7-0-1) (21 digs), Eggen (6-1-0), Lee (5-2-0), Poehler (4-2-0), Stanger (1-1-0), Stevenson (1-0-0) (19 digs) (24 assists), Vega (23 digs), Kroshus (0-1-0) (10 digs).

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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