Jaguars to face Medford in Class 1A state semis on Friday
A terrific battle is coming on Friday, November 9 at Xcel Energy Center. In the 3 p.m. Class 1A state semifinal match, the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Jaguars volleyball team faces Medford for a berth in the championship match.
Medford, unseeded, was unfazed by the specter of two-time defending state champion and No. 2-seeded Mayer Lutheran in their Thursday quarterfinal match. The Tigers fell behind 2-1 in sets, but they came out on absolute fire in game four, led 6-0 early and proceeded to smoke the heavily-favored Crusaders 25-15 in game four to set up what would be an epic rubber set. After trailing 10-9 in game five, the Tigers had match point five separate times before finally bumping the Crusaders into the loser's bracket when 6'0" junior Kinsey Cronin had back-to-back kills for a 19-17 win.
Medford (28-5) is competing at state for the first time ever. They were led by junior Emma Kniefel's game-high 21 kills.
Mayer Lutheran, meanwhile, is in their 15th state tournament.
To get to state, Medford knocked out defending Section 1A champion and perennial state powerhouse Bethlehem Academy in the sub-section finals. They swept B.A. 25-19, 27-25, 25-21 for their first-ever sub-section championship. B.A. took third place at state last year.
Medford then defeated another perennial power, Mabel-Canton, in their first-ever appearance in a section championship match. In that match, Medford's height in the middle proved to be a key factor: 6'0" middle Kinsey Cronin and 5'9" outside Emma Kniefel - both underclassmen (sophomore and junior, respectively).
In 2017, Medford finished 18-11 overall and 5-2 in their conference; they lost their playoff opener to visiting Goodhue in the sub-section quarterfinals. In 2016, they were 1-1 in the playoffs and finished 14-13-2 overall (5-2 conference).