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Ellie Rutten, left and Taylor Geiser put up a block trying to stop Ulen-Hitterdal's Ciara Austinson in the Eagles 3-2 playoff victory. Photo by Bob Williams.

Volleyball: Eagles advance in 6A playoffs to face top-seed Ada-Borup

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Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

The #8-seeded New York Mills Eagles volleyball team defeated the #9 Ulen-Hitterdal Spartans 3-2 in the opening round of 6A section playoffs Thursday night.

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"The first two games were really close and the girls capitalized on some big plays to end those," Head Coach Amy Koskela said.

In the pivotal, momentum charging, first game, Ellie Rutten was a dominating presence at the net blasting balls back at Spartan hitters and making kills at key points during some long rallies.

None more important than at set point with the Eagles up 24-23--Rutten, while falling away from the net, got the ball down for a kill to put NY Mills up 1-0 (25-23)

In set two, NY Mills needed an extra point taking a 2-0-match lead with a 26-24 win.

That is when the Spartans, with their backs against the wall and the end of their season in view, stormed back.

The Spartans dominated the Eagles in sets three and four winning handily, 25-13 and a shocking 25-7 set four match setting up a deciding race to 15 points in set five to advance to the next round or see a season end.

"We fell apart in games three and four, but came back as a team--hitting the ball and taking game five."

The Eagles took the fifth set 15-9, regaining their composure and early momentum to advance to the next round of the playoffs.

Rutten led the Eagles with 14 kills. Jackie Imsande was right behind her with 13. Taylor Geiser had eight.

Geiser and Brooke Kupfer put up big numbers saving points with 20 and 21 digs, respectively. Tori Kempenich had nine.

Lexie Rankka had 36 assists.

The Spartans finish their season with a record of 8-16-1, including tournament play.

The Eagles improve to 9-13-3 and are on a three-match win streak.

The road gets immensely more difficult tonight, Friday, Oct. 28, as NY Mills travels to #9-ranked and top-seeded Ada-Borup looking to pull off a major upset.

The Cougars are 26-1; their only loss coming to Win-E-Mac Patriots (25-3-1) Sept. 29.

"I've never had a team go undefeated or with one loss," said Hayden, who has been at Ada-Borup since 1996. "This has been a strange year. Sometimes I look back and I don't know how we do this, but the success has been the biggest thing to this point."

The Cougars recently had a three-game Moorhead tournament stretch where they defeated three schools from larger Classes, Moorhead, Fergus Falls and Duluth East to take the title.

Ada-Borup 3, NYM 0

The one-loss Cougars kept it that way, improving to 27-1 with a 3-0 sweep of the Eagles, ending NY Mills' season with a record of 9-14.

Ada-Borup won all three games handily, 25-9, 25-11 and 25-7.

"The girls struggled on serve receive, but hung in there on some long volleys," Koskela said.

The Cougars will face Barnesville (12-14) on a neutral court in Hawley, Nov. 1, as Section playoffs continue.

NYM 3, U-H 2

Game stats:

Kills: Rutten 14, Imsande 13, Geiser 8, Plautz 3, Rankka 3, Kempenich 3, Nebosis 1.

Aces: Imsande, Rutten, Rankka, Kempenich 1.

Blocks: Rutten 7, Geiser 3, Imsande 3, Plautz 2.

Digs: Kupfer 21, Geiser 20, Kempenich 9, Paavola 8, Imsande 4, Nebosis 4, Geiser 3, Rankka 3, Frost 2.

Assists: Rankka 36, Kempenich 1, Plautz 1.

Ada-Borup 3, NYM 0

Game stats:

Kills: Rutten 7, Imsande 2, Geiser 2, Plautz 1, Rankka 1, Kempenich 1.

Aces: Rankka 1.

Blocks: Rutten 4, Imsande 3, Plautz 3.

Digs: Kupfer 12, Geiser 11, Kempenich 5, Rankka 3, Paavola 2, Frost 1, Savannah Leiran 1.

Assists: Rankka 10, Plautz 1.

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