Sixth-seeded New Life Academy never got in a groove and dropped a section semifinals match to tenth-ranked Hill-Murray in Maplewood Tuesday night.
The host Pioneers won in three games, 25-13, 25-10 and 25-18.
“We had a good run early on in game one but it was just an environment which made us a little tight,” said New Life Academy head coach Wally Bomgren. “We needed our best stuff tonight, we needed to be loose and play like we have been. We’ve played some really good matches lately where we’ve cut the errors out and played good volleyball. But tonight we just weren’t able to do that.”
It was the third straight 3-0 win for the Pioneers in the section tournament. The loss was a little reminiscent for the Eagles after they lost to Hill-Muray in the section tournament last season.
“We faced a team here that had excellent serving,” Bomgren said. “We knew that was going to come at us and we knew we had to be ready. And they’ve got some nice hitters. They’ve got three or four offensive weapons that scored a bunch of points against us and we just didn’t defend as well as they did.”
The Eagles knocked off 11th seed St. Paul Harding and third-seeded St. Paul Central to advance to the section semifinals. They ended their season with a 13-16 record.
Second-seeded Hill-Murray improved to 17-13 and will play Holy Angels Thursday for the Class 2A, Section 4 title at Bloomington Kennedy.
It was a tough way for the Eagles to bow out, especially the eight seniors who made up the heart of this year’s team. Seniors Ally Hullett, Lauren Wicklund, Hannah Nelson, Hannah Tima, Lauren Tateosian, Mackenzie Porupsky, Dani Miller and Joci Morara ended their high school volleyball years.
“This group of seniors – you could tell from day one in June when we had open gym – that there was something special between these girls,” Bomgren noted. “A lot of them have been here since kindergarten. Their relationships are very, very strong. And you could tell the team chemistry was very positive.”