Titans topple Eagan to gain Section 3AAA volleyball finals

Tartan, the number two ranked team in Section 3AAA, went up against perennial nemesis and number three-ranked Eagan in semi-final volleyball action, Nov. 1 at South St. Paul.

Going into the contest, the Titans had limited success against the Wildcats.

Well, that may be an understatement. Since Tartan was placed in Section 3AAA volleyball competitions, the Titans had gone up against Eagan on four other occasions and had yet to win a match.

It was a different story Nov. 1. The Titans came out inspired.

Except for a third game in which Eagan came on to win, Tartan played with determined inspiration and ended up on top of a 4-1 final count.

The first-ever triumph over the Wildcats advanced Tartan into the section final against number one rated Cretin-Derham Hall.

“Yeah, the monkey is off our backs,” Tartan co-coach Laura Klingsporn smiled as she agreed to a comment. “This is the first time (we’ve beaten them) since they have been in our section. I think our consistency paid off. We played with few unforced errors. We have a well-balanced team. Everyone is capable of scoring, so they can’t key on one player.”

Dana Pederson, Klingsporn’s counterpart (who will take over the reins next year) explained the second game loss.

“We got into a ‘tipping’ game with them. Once we got back to hitting in game four, we got back on track,” she said.

Pederson then explained the black armbands worn by each of the Tartan team members.

“They have dedicated the sections to Aaron Fowler. They wore those armbands in his honor. He was an athlete and he’d want us to go out and kick some butt. That’s what we did.”

Fowler, a senior, was a popular student/athlete at Tartan who lost a battle with leukemia on Oct. 29. Fowler played football and ran track until he was afflicted by the disease.

“Three of the last four years we’ve lost to them,” explained a happy Nikki Klingsporn. The Tartan ace setter-hitter-digger smiled broadly. “We finally won! We played very well as a team. It was just a good, all-around effort out of everyone on the team.”

Klingsporn went to the line to start game one and quickly set the stage.

She served six straight points (four of them were aces) and the Tartan defense set the tone for the first game.

Each time Eagan would rally and attempt to come back, co-captains Klingsporn and Erica Jost would combine to put the ball to the floor on the Wildcats side of the net.

Tartan won the first game going away 25-14.

The Wildcats jumped to a 4-1 lead in game two. Tartan came back and knotted the count, first at six, then at seven and again at eight.

Eagan tied it up at nine and again at 10.

At that point, the Titans took control. They went on a 10-2 run that pushed the score to 19-12.

From there it was a pre concluded outcome as Tartan out-clawed Eagan 25-17 to move to a two game advantage.

Game three was a close match until Eagan got the upper hand with 10 points remaining.

The contest was hard fought and the score was level on seven occasions, the last at 15-15.

At that point Eagan had a 7-1 surge to move to a 22-16 leeway.

Tartan came back with three points to pull within three at 22-19, but the Wildcats sent their ace, Tasha Simmons, to the service line. She closed out the Titans with three points that gave Eagan game three, 25-19.

Game four see-sawed in the early stages. It was tied at seven when the Wildcats gave up the ball on a serve into the net.

Brittany Baker, number five in the Tartan service rotation, went to the line.

Suddenly the Titans’ appetite for a win took over.

Jackie Goetzke banged three kills to the floor. She added a pair of assists. Klingsporn sent three slams to the Eagan side and Baker served an ace.

Before Baker, a junior, moved, Tartan had forged a 15-7 advantage.

From there the teams traded shots with Tartan getting the better of the fray until they led 20-13.

Jost got the ball to serve and pushed the count to 24-13. An out serve was followed by a Baker set and Klingsporn blast to the Eagan floor.

The effort gave Tartan a 25-14 game-four victory and a 3-1 match triumph, that moved them to the finals of Section 3AAA, Nov. 5, against Cretin-Derham Hall, a 3-0 winner over Woodbury in the second game of the double-header evening.

To gain the win, the Titans were led by Klingsporn who recorded 22 kills, 17 sets, four blocks and gained a point on a tip.

Baker had 14 sets, while Goetzke had nine sets and eight kills and added a block. Jost added a pair of sets, had four kills and a tip for points.

In the losing effort, Eagan’s Gabbi Chartel directed traffic with 20 sets. Teammates Sarah Schwanz had 12 kills, a block and three tips. Katie Joyce had six sets and two kills, while Simmons had two sets nine kills, a block and a tip for points.

Eagan finished the season with a mark of 15-11 while Tartan took their 25-4 record into the championship match against Cretin-Derham Hall.

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