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Outserved Mayo is swept

By Jason Feldman

jfeldman@postbulletin.com

Rochester Mayo struggled with its serving.

Lakeville North did not, serving up a heavy dose of front-liners Kelsey Brandl, Amanda Anderson and Amy Brown.

Mayo had nine serving errors, while North’s Brandl, a 6-foot-2 junior, controlled the middle of the net all the way through the No. 2-seeded Panthers’ 25-20, 25-16, 34-32 sweep of Mayo in a Section One, Class AAA tournament semifinal match Wednesday at the Mayo Civic Center’s Taylor Arena.

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Lakeville North will go for its fifth straight Section 1AAA title Saturday night at Taylor Arena against No. 1 seed Owatonna, which survived a five-game semifinal win over Northfield.

"We missed more services than we had missed in a match all year," Mayo coach Deb Frederick said. "That’s tough to come back from. It hurt us to miss when (Brandl) wasn’t in."

Brandl had 12 kills, but her block was equally frustrating for third-seeded Mayo, which held leads in the first and third games, but couldn’t hang on.

"She puts up a wall that most teams don’t see at this level," Frederick said.

The play of Brandl, Anderson (eight kills) and Brown (six kills) didn’t take the fight out of the Spartans, though.

Mayo trailed by three points three times in the third game, but battled back to take a 24-23 lead. Five more times the Spartans served for game point, and five times the Panthers responded. Mayo held on through two game points for North, but a kill by Brown followed by a soft bump from Brandl that dropped harmlessly onto Mayo’s side of the court ended the match.

"We were hoping we’d push a little harder to shut down (Brandl)," Mayo junior hitter Molly Campbell, who had nine kills, said, "but they have some really good hitters. They’re tough all the way around.

"We picked up our intensity (in the third game). Everyone saw the block better and knew where to put the ball."

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Senior Leah Bjerke showed why she was the Spartans’ team leader down the stretch. She had three kills late in the third game to keep Mayo’s season alive, including the final one of her Spartans’ career, which knotted the game at 32.

Bjerke, who is headed to NCAA Division II Southwest Minnesota State University next year to play for the Mustangs, led Mayo with 16 kills.

"These seniors worked hard together," Frederick said. "They chose to come to open gyms together and practice together. That’s what made us so effective this year."

Sophomore Bevy Lehman — who has battled an ankle injury the past two weeks — joined Campbell with nine kills. Darci Heikes had 18 assists and Brittini Hoosier had 15.

"Our hearts were way into it," Frederick said. "We just had so many opportunities where we didn’t seal it.

"We were off defensively and (Lakeville) never let up."

Lakeville North ended Mayo’s season for a second consecutive year and the third time in the last four years.

Mayo finished the season 25-4, the fourth consecutive 20-win season for the Spartans.

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