By PATRICK SLACK
The Upsala volleyball team held late leads in the second and third sets, but Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (BBE) rallied in both for a 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 win in Thursday’s Sub-Section 5A West championship at Pierz.
BBE started strong, sprinting to a 12-3 lead in the opening set.
The Cardinals closed the gap to 14-9 on three consecutive points by senior Makenna Peterson, but couldn’t pull any closer as BBE took a one-set lead.
However, Upsala settled in and kept the second set close throughout, taking a 9-8 lead after a Peterson kill ended a lengthy rally.
The Cardinals maintained their edge deep into the set, going ahead 21-17 on a BBE error.
But the Jaguars won eight of the next nine points, preventing Upsala from tying the match while taking a two-set advantage.
The Cardinals didn’t relent in the third set, going ahead 4-3 early on a block by senior Emma Guthrie and kill by senior Aimee Pelzer.
BBE evened up the score at 9-9 before senior Sadie Welinski dropped a shot in to put the Cardinals back on top 10-9, only for the Jaguars to pull back ahead at 16-14.
A missed serve and kill by sophomore Danica Cheney tied the score at 16-16, then senior Tracy Herzog delivered a block to put Upsala back in the lead.
The Cardinals once again moved within four points of winning the set at 21-18, but BBE rattled off four points in a row to move ahead 22-21.
Peterson powered a kill to tie the score at 22-22 and a long BBE serve put both teams on the brink of the set at 23-23, with BBE taking the final two points to close out the win.
Peterson led the Upsala offense with 12 kills, followed by Pelzer with six and Herzog and Cheney with three apiece.
Pelzer set up the Cardinals’ attack with 13 set assists and paced the defense with 22 digs, followed by Herzog with 14 digs, Peterson with nine and Cheney with eight.
Cheney added seven set assists and Herzog contributed four blocks.
Upsala finished the season with a 26-7 record, including a perfect 10-0 mark during the regular season in the Prairie Conference.
Seniors on this year’s team included Welinski, Pelzer, Guthire, Peterson, Herzog, Kim Mayer and Alissa Zehrer.
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 3, Upsala 0
Upsala 17 22 23 – 0
BBE 25 25 25 – 3
Upsala—Kills: Makenna Peterson, 12; Aimee Pelzer, 6; Danica Cheney, 3; Tracy Herzog, 3. Set Assists: Pelzer, 13; Cheney, 7. Digs: Pelzer, 22; Herzog, 14; Peterson, 9; Cheney, 8. Blocks: Herzog, 4.