Class 2A state volleyball: Concordia Academy wins rematch with Watertown-Mayer

The Concordia Academy volleyball team’s first loss of the season came in a September showcase tournament against Watertown-Mayer.

Watertown-Mayer outside hitter Paige Thibault finished with a match-high 17 kills in that meeting. The Beacons learned from the loss, scouted the Royals and applied the lessons in a winning rematch Thursday in the Class 2A state tournament quarterfinals at the Xcel Energy Center.

The Beacons started quick in winning 25-19, 25-18 and 25-12 to advance to Friday’s semifinals.

“She just hit the ball hard at the showcase,” Concordia Academy coach Kim Duis said of Thibault, who has committed to the University of Virginia. “We had watched them right after our section championship game. They played Totino-Grace right after us, so we were able to kind of get a scout in and have a game plan of how to work with (Thibault).”

Thibault had nine kills Thursday, but the Beacons defense scrambled to pick up key points.

Kira Fallert had a match-high 16 kills for Concordia Academy. Shania Zinter had six kills and Brooke Weichbrodt finished with 27 assists for the Beacons, the fifth seed facing fourth-seed Watertown-Mayer.

“They played a great game, but we gave them the game,” Royals coach Andrea Raser said. “That’s what’s frustrating is that we didn’t play. It’s hard for me to talk about anything they did when we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

Defense was a key this time.

“We’ve been working on defense a lot the past couple weeks, and all of us have gotten so much better,” Fallert said. “Just that extra amount of grit helps you in those tight points. With all the practice we’ve been doing and our motivation, it definitely paid off today.”

The Beacons had a quick start, nothing unexpected for the state tournament veterans. Concordia Academy has been in the state tournament five of the past six years but is looking for its first championship since winning Class A in 1987.

“We were very focused and determined, but we’re also here to have fun,” Fallert said. “We always play our best when we’re having fun and playing loose and confident. That was definitely the mindset going in. As soon as we start playing, all the nerves just wash away and we just play together.”

 

Fallert had five kills as the Beacons led 21-13 in the first set. Two kills each by Weichbrodt and Fallert helped them to a 7-1 lead in the second set.

“I definitely felt the momentum,” Weichbrodt said. “We’re all just super pumped to be here, and … we always talk about playing as a team and we thought we did a really great job of that tonight.”

Duis looked forward to another rematch with Concordia Academy’s next opponent, top-seed Stewartville, which beat Annandale 25-17, 25-12, 25-21 in the quarterfinals.

“We know it will be a battle,” Duis said. “We’ve been here before. About three years ago, we were the four or five seed and we end up playing Kenyon-Wanamingo. They were the No. 1 and knocked them off. To us, there’s not a number in front of your name at this point. We’ve talked about that in playoffs, whether you’re the one or the eight, the three or the two, it doesn’t matter, everyone is here to play. We’re excited. So, we’ll be ready tomorrow to take on the Tigers.”


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