By Bob San
The Osseo Orioles came ready to play in the Section 5AA volleyball final against No. 2 Blaine at Anoka last Saturday. They scratched out a win in game one but reality quickly set in as the powerful Bengals dominated the next three to win 24-26, 25-17, 25-18 and 25-13 and earn a return trip to the state tournament.
Osseo led by three, four points throughout the first game. Strong serving by Hannah Pekarek, Megan Pekarek and Shiah Sanders, solid back row play by Jazlynn Tanielu and strong play up front by Phillis Webb, Megan Pekarek, Christine Boe and Jackie Jones kept Osseo in contention. Blaine made a late run to earn game point at 24-23. But Webb and Megan Pekarek combined on a block kill to tie it 24-24 and the Orioles won the next two points on Blaine passing errors to win 26-24.
“In the first game we came out aggressive,” Osseo coach Bill Quan said. “After that Blaine found their rhythm, their ball control improved and their hitters got their rhythm too. I give them a lot of credits. They are a great team with weapons all over the place, great ball control, good hitters and one of the best setters in the state, too.”
Blaine got the spark it needed from all-state setter Lydia Dimke in game two. The 6-2 Purdue-bound Dimke went to the serving line midway in the game and fired five straight service aces to put Blaine in control. The Orioles were rattled and never really recovered their first-game form. The Bengals went on to win game two and cruised to take games three and four.
The loss ended a fine season for the Orioles, who finished 18-11 overall and took third place in the conference behind state tournament teams Blaine and Anoka with a 7-3 record.
Quan said the Orioles met most of the goals they set for the season.
“This group of girls is very special. They have great team chemistry and are always working hard. It was fun going to the gym to be around these girls,” Quan said. “The team goal this year is to get to this game, to have the opportunity to face off with Blaine. We accomplished that but we came up a bit short of our next goal of getting to state. But we had the chance to play the No. 2 or 3 team in the state in the section final so I am definitely proud of them.”
Quan will welcome back many top players next year, so he hopes the Orioles will benefit from the experience of playing in the pressure-packed section final.
“Of the girls who played tonight, three of them are seniors,” Quan said. “Hopefully the girls coming back will take this learning experience and become stronger physically and mentally from this experience.”