November 3, 2011 at 10:59 a.m.
Although the Vikings crushed Columbia Heights in their season finale, winning 25-2, 25-5, 25-17 over the overmatched Hylanders, the event was a huge success regardless of the outcome of the game.
The girls held their annual Dig Pink event that raises money for Breast Cancer Awareness. Through various fundraising activities, the girls raised $638. "Dig Pink was a huge success this year on the court and off the court," first year Head Coach Hayley Lang exclaimed.
The Lady Vikings also got a chance to get some younger players in on some varsity action when they had dominated the first two sets over Heights, so the night was a success from top to bottom.
Section 7AAA Playoffs
North Branch 3, Duluth Denfeld 0
With their 18-10 record on the season, the Vikings drew the sixth seed for the second straight year. "It was actually a placement we didn't think we were going to get," Lang said. "Since we got beat earlier this year by Elk River and split with St. Francis and our section is very tough, we were really happy with the draw."
In the first round, the Vikings got the Hunters of Duluth Denfeld, the 11th seed. The Lady Vikes had swept them clean earlier in the year when they traveled up to Duluth, so playing at home figured to give North Branch that decided advantage.
The Vikings stayed confident in their game without overlooking Denfeld. "Their scores had been better as the year progressed," Lang explained. "We needed to play well to have the opportunity to advance."
And play well they did. In the first two sets, North Branch set an early, aggressive tone and kept the Hunters at bay, winning 25-13, 25-14.
In the third set, Denfeld found a bit more of a groove, but they had just dug themselves too big of a hole and couldn't fend off the attacking Vikings. North Branch completed the sweep with a 25-18 victory in the third set.
Elk River 3, North Branch 0
In a rematch of last year's nail-biter that went five sets in the second round of sections, Elk River won a bit more decisively this year, but only in the match score. All three sets stayed close and had some constant back-and-forth action in them.
The Elks, although featuring a worse record than North Branch at 14-13, received the fourth seed in the section and a first round bye. Their seeding was based on a considerably tougher schedule than North Branch and the fact that the Elks beat the Vikings 3-1 early in the season.
"Our girls spent a ton of time in the gym adjusting and creating offense and defense to combat Elk River," Lang said. "We knew the Elks would be playing their best volleyball of the season and they really showed up tonight."
The Elks got a lot of offense from junior Kara Ziemer. She finished the night with 20 kills and two aces for the Elks, and was a big reason the higher seed was able to finish off sets. North Branch actually held a lead in all three sets, but they couldn't cling to those leads in any sets.
Elk River won the sets 25-22, 25-23, 25-22. "They have a ton of offense from their serve, which our girls struggled with towards the end of sets," Lang said. "We had some amazing rallies with them and were able to get ahead in all three sets, but we were unable to hang on in the long run."
North Branch finished the season with an 18-10 record overall, and an 8-2 mark in the conference, which was good enough for third place.
The Vikings will graduate some key pieces from this years squad also. Outside hitters Jessica Lemmerman and Rachel Barg will be gone. Barg has been a staple in the varsity lineup since ninth grade and Lemmerman has made her presence felt over the past few years. Also gone will be middle hitter Cassedy Coleman