The Vikings saw their undefeated season come to an end during their home tournament on Saturday, Sept. 14. However, even in defeat the team showed a ton of determination against one of the top-ranked teams in Class AAA.
The loss came to Sartell-St. Stephen in the final match of the round-robin portion of the tournament by a score of 2-1. Each of the three sets were extremely close, with both teams taking away leads from each other in a race to 25 and 15 points. The final scores were 22-25, 25-21, 15-13 in favor of the Sabres.
North Branch had a much easier time the rest of the tournament, beating Esko and Cloquet in the round-robin and St. Francis for third place by scores of 2-0.
For the tournament, Cianna Selbitschka had 46 kills and 34 digs, with Paige Peaslee and Reagan Irons having 16 and 15 kills, respectively, from the middle hitter position. Haley Hadrava added 12 kills from the outside, and setter Paige Sheehan had a total of 91 assists.
In conference play last week, North Branch cruised by neighbors Cambridge-Isanti and Chisago Lakes, each via 3-0 shutouts. The closest either of the two opponents got in the six sets was 20 points.
The Vikings went 1-1 for the week, beating Princeton 3-1, but losing to Grand Rapids 3-0.
In the win against the Tigers, Princeton jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but North Branch rallied, scoring two goals in the first half and adding a clinching goal in the second half. Scoring in the first half for the Vikings were Harry Toussaint on a penalty kick, Noah Schwartzrock on a corner kick that went untouched into the net. Schwartzrock also netted the third goal off a nice pass from Toussaint.
Their home game against Big Lake on Thursday, Sept. 12, was postponed due to heavy rains.
The North Branch girls team experienced a tough week, losing to both Princeton and Duluth Marshal via shutouts. The finals were 3-0 against the Tigers and 6-0 against the defending section champion Hilltoppers.
Like the boys, the girls game against Big Lake was postponed due to weather.
North Branch faced two strong opponents last week, falling to section powers Princeton 5-2 and Andover 6-1. Picking up the wins were Miaya Volkman at third singles and Deb Thayer and Katelyn Pascovage at third doubles against Princeton and Rachel Wurdemann and Hailey Bistodeau at second doubles against Andover.
The Vikings traveled up to Hermantown, hoping to avenge last year’s two losses to the Hawks. However, the home team once again prevailed, beating North Branch 28-12.
North Branch got on the board first, scoring early in the second quarter on a touchdown by Gavyn Jensen-Schneider. That lead was brief as Hermantown took a 7-6 lead shortly after and extended it to 14-6 at halftime.
That lead was extended to 21-6 in the third quarter. The Vikings would narrow the gap to 21-12 early in the fourth, but the Hawks would salt the game away with one last touchdown.
North Branch raced in two meets last week that featured some high-caliber competition, resulting in team results towards the bottom of the standings.
On Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Vikings traveled to Mora, with the boys finishing 14th out of 15 teams and the girls coming in last among 13 teams. Three days later, the team was off to St. Francis, where the boys finished 11th out of 12 teams and the girls again were last, this time among eight teams.
Individually, Carson Klein was the top boys finisher in both meets, placing 40th at Mora and 46th at St. Francis. Cora Hudella did the same for the girls, placing 60th at Mora and 42nd at St. Francis.