November 5, 2009 at 8:48 a.m.

After downing C-I, 'Cats fall to top seed Andover

After downing C-I, 'Cats fall to top seed Andover
After downing C-I, 'Cats fall to top seed Andover

Although their regular season was a back-and-forth struggle all year, the Chisago Lakes volleyball team still earned a home playoff game when they were awarded the eighth seed in the Section 7AAA.

They hosted ninth-seeded Cambridge-Isanti for the right to play a tough game against number one seed Andover.

Chisago Lakes 3, Cambridge-Isanti 0

The two teams had already matched up once this year, with the Wildcats prevailing, so they had the mental edge over the Bluejackets. That was quickly evident in the first set when the Jackets made countless errors as the 'Cats built a quick 8-4 lead.

After Chisago Lakes stretched the lead to 16-10 on a huge Rachel Nelson spike, Cambridge-Isanti was forced to call a timeout as the Chisago Lakes crowd was rocking.

The timeout didn't kill any momentum for the Wildcats, as they extended their lead to 22-13 on some nicely-placed tips from their front row.

The Jackets, however, rattled off the next four points to chop the lead to 22-17 and that forced Head Coach Katie Nelson to call a timeout and regroup her charges. After a quick pep talk and some direction, the 'Cats came out swinging and scored the next three points to end the set at 25-17.

The second set stayed evenly matched all the way up to double digits, but Morgan Magnuson made sure C-I couldn't stay close with some effective serving. With the score tied at 11, Magnuson ran off six consecutive points to put the Wildcats up 17-11.

They kept applying the pressure and eventually finished the match off when Courtney Fautsch blew a spike past the C-I defenders for a 25-17 win in the second set.

The Wildcats were clearly winning the mental game with the Jackets. They had already beaten them this year, and now with a two set lead, Cambridge-Isanti struggled right out of the gate in the third set, allowing the 'Cats to go up 11-5 early.

However, they battled back and seemed to have all the momentum after a two-play sequence late in the match. With the 'Cats clinging to a 17-14 lead, a long volley between the two teams was kept alive when a Bluejacket player made a phenomenal shot after the first two went awry.

The player circled between the scorers' table and her bench. Then from behind her coach, facing away from the net from a very sharp angle, managed to squeeze the ball over the net, and the Jackets ended up winning the point.

On the ensuing C-I serve, junior Grace Nelson hit an ace to trim the lead to 17-16, forcing Larson to take another timeout. The Jackets still scored the next point to tie the match at 17, but a quick kill and a few more errors from the Jacket side led to a 25-19 win in the set for the Wildcats.

Andover 3, Chisago Lakes 0

As expected, the Huskies were just too much for the Wildcats to handle. The 'Cats never really threatened to take any of the sets from Andover, falling 25-15, 25-17, 25-18 in the section quarterfinals.

The loss left the Wildcats with a final record of 9-15 on the year, not what they pictured coming into the senior year of prolific performers Nelson and Fautsch.

Not only do those two big hitters soon graduate, but the 'Cats will also lose setter Lauren Weiler and Shannon Monson to graduation this year.


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