What a comeback!!!
Canby had ripped off victories faster than Joey “Jaws” Chestnut swallows hot dogs.
They vaulted their record to 14-1 and looming on the horizon was a showdown Tuesday with arch-rival Minneota.
But before that date of destiny could arrive, the Lancers found themselves in the Midwest Volleyball Warehouse showdown in the third place match— and across the aisle was Minneota.
They played it out and the Vikings beat the Lancers, 25-22 and 25-16 to take third place.
But all that couldn’t have predicted the barn-burner that turned the Minneota gymnasium into bedlam Tuesday night. Canby won the first two games 25-16 and 25-22 — but Minneota roared back with 25-14; 25-21 and 15-10 wins, much to the delight of their fans.
The two teams had the gymnasium literally rockin’ all night long. So what’s the formula for coming back from an 0-2 start to win?
“We just did not want to lose. We weren’t going to let them beat us,” said junior hitter Lizzy Gillingham.
“We didn’t want to lose and we all knew we could do it,” said setter Morgan Kockelman. But there had to be a moment of doubt when the well-balanced Lancers failed to show a dent in their Lancer armor.
The Abbey Pedersen led Lancers got Minneota hitter Lydia Sussner off the floor when she rotated to the back row and Sussner simply couldn’t get back in the game to make a difference.
“We couldn’t get out of their runs,” said Kockelman as Canby controlled the ball. A long delay, three times in fact, stopped action for a considerable period of time.
Assistant Coach Kaley Buysse explained the problem. “When Sydney Larson ran onto the floor, she should have run out with the Libero and others. But she ran out and stopped (as if waiting to be waved in). As a result, the referee found the Minneota rotation ‘out of order’ and stopped the game until the problem could be solved,” Buysse said.
Because of the error, it cost Minneota a point and the score went from a 4-4 tie to 5-3 Canby. But the Vikings hung in there and tied it at 17 before Morgan Cleveland and Pederson went to work at the net and the Vikings couldn’t land enough points.
Canby won 25-22 and led, 2-0. Minneota was at the crossroads. “We all had to step up and get it done,” said Kockelman.
“After that second set, we all came together and picked it up,” she added. Indeed they did. “I looked them in the eyes and they were not defeated. They came back to battle,” said Coach Hayley Fruin.
Ellie Pesch served the team into an 8-3 lead with four straight points.
That’s when the hitters came to life. Lizzy Gillingham began to make her corner her personal shooting range as she shot the Vikings into a 12-8 lead, then went to the serving line and served an ace for a 13-9 Minneota advantage. Sussner also came alive with a couple of ringing kills.
But with Minneota leading 17-12 — it was Gillingham who fired three straight big hits after a nice dig by Morgan Hennen and block at the net by Kockelman.
“We were playing hard and not hanging our heads,” Gillingham stated. She got a chance to pound home the final point in the Vikings first win.
But there would be more. Game four was tight, the two teams tied 15-15; 16-16 and 17-17.
But with Gillingham slamming home a couple more kills and Natalee Rolbiecki coming off the bench to protect the net — the Vikings pulled out a 25-21 win. It all came down to game five.
“The important thing in the fifth game is not to have errors and to serve well,” said Coach Fruin.
Solid serving by Morgan Hennen and with Sussner firing away, the Vikings took a 7-1 lead —held on despite a Canby rush and with Rolbiecki laying a nice block on the Lancers, then a hit, Minneota took home the fifth game.
Oh yeah, Abby Hennen had 40 digs. And the comeback was complete. Gillingham acknowledged the comeback.
“When we play like that, we’re unstoppable,” she said.