Medford Volleyball Makes History with Trip to State
The Medford Tigers had never been to a Section final before Saturday but they looked like they were comfortable in their four set victory over the Mabel-Canton Cougars in Rochester. The Cougars came into the match with a #6 ranking in the final Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association poll in Class A. Medford was not ranked all year even though they had just 5 losses and played in a very good conference for volleyball.
Medford went to overtime to win the first set 26-24, then clawed out a 25-21 win before the Cougars captured the third set 25-18. The Tigers ended the match with a 25-21 victory and celebrated with tears of joy in their eyes on the Sport Court at the Rochester Mayo Civic Center Arena.
Medford had a height advantage and used it. 6'0 sophomore Kinsey Cronin had six kills and a solo block in the first set (by my unofficial statistics) to help set the tone for the match. 5'9 junior Emma Kniefel had 5 kills in that overtime set. 5'9 senior Rachael Luebbe smacked an ace serve and collected 3 kills.
Medford Head Coach Missy Underdahl told POWER 96 before the match she told her team to go out and have fun. They were the underdog with no state ranking tangling with a team led by legendary Head Coach Lonnie Morken. Underdahl also told her team to play to the whistle on every point because the Cougars would pick up some balls you would not expect to be picked up.
No player exemplified that message more than Tiger 5'7 junior setter Morgan Langeslag. She chased balls to the scorer's table and once appeared to be even with the pole at the end of the net and somehow got it inside the antenna and onto the other side during one point. Kniefel also had some sliding digs and 5'2 libero Kiley Nihart saved numerous off speed attacks with perfect passes.
My unofficial statistics had Kniefel with 19 kills, Cronin 17 kills and Luebbe 12 kills. Medford had 3 ace serves and 4 service errors and Mabel-Canton tallied 3 ace serves and had 7 service errors.
The Cougars had one player with double digit kills, 5'9 junior Sorina Stortz recorded 14 kills in the four set match.
Mabel-Canton ends their season with a 30-6 record and the 27-5 Medford Tigers will go to St. Paul Thursday to open play at the Xcel Energy Center.
They seed the three tournaments Sunday and we will have them on this website as soon as we get them.