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Ely wins Consolation Championship at State Volleyball Tourney

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The Ely girls volleyball team brought home hardware from the state tournament Saturday.

Ely beat West Central Area 3-0 (25-20, 25-15, 25-21) to take home the Consolation Championship on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Cheered on by a large contingent of Ely fans, the Timberwolves pressured the Knights from the start. Ely was led by senior Hannah Penke who tallied 17 kills, 22 digs and an ace serve in her final game. 

“I was a little nervous about playing at 10:30 a.m., we’re not really morning people and we’ve struggled in tournaments in that first game. We just need to make sure we show up extra early so we can walk around and get our bodies ready,” said Head Coach Megan Wognum. “I think there was a different mind set today than what we’ve seen in the past. We definitely stepped up defensively. They played the best defense they’ve played all season without a doubt. That’s not easy to do in the morning when you’ve been away from your bed for five days.”

Last year the Wolves came up just short in the consolation game but this year Ely was determined and used the combination of younger and older players to get it done.

Mayer-Lutheran was a tough draw for Ely in the opening round and the second seeded team that advanced to the Class A championship game didn’t give the Wolves much breathing room after the first set Thursday night (25-23, 25-13, 25-16). The Wolves did have leads of 13-9 and 21-17 but Mayer Lutheran held on to win the all important first set. 

Ely bounced back with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-18, 25-13) win over Badger/Greenbush-Middle River Friday afternoon. Penke and Clare Thomas were a solid 1-2 punch as they both notched 19 kills. Senior Sarah Visser recorded 43 assists in the win. 

That put the Wolves in the Consolation Championship against West Central Area. Ely starts two seniors, two juniors and two freshmen. Wognum said all six were part of the winning formula. 

“I would say it was a team effort today for sure. I think Sarah and Charlotte (Hegman) did a real good job today picking up those hard hit balls down the line on the outsides,” said Wognum. “And Lilli (Rechichi) and Audrey (Kallberg) got some nice swings down the middle. We also picked up some nice balls off the block which is really important. And Clare and Hannah did a really good job defensively.” 

Thomas had 10 kills for Ely to go along with 13 digs and an ace serve. Visser had 34 assists and Rechichi had nine kills. 

The Wolves finished the season with a record of 27-6 and a nice addition to the school’s trophy case. 

“Everyone’s really excited they got to bring home some hardware and that should be celebrated. The goal is to place as high as you can but just being in the State Tournament is such a cool experience. And then realizing too that once we were able to compete yesterday with Badger it kind of opened their eyes a little bit to show them they have a chance to make their mark. They’re happy about it. I’m happy about it. It felt amazing last year coming home with a win at state, but coming away with two wins is even better,” said Wognum. 

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