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Colfax netters take first regional championship in 17 years

Not only did the Colfax volleyball team win their first regional championship since 1997, they did it in completely dominating fashion as they won in three straight sets against three different opponents last week. All of the matches were won on their home court after receiving a number one seed in the regional bracket, starting with Glenwood City on Oct. 21, Unity two days later and Grantsburg for a Saturday night special. And to top it off, Kori Buchanan became the first player in Colfax history to reach 1,000 kills, reaching the milestone in the Glenwood City game.

Glenwood City

Much like they did earlier in the season, Colfax dominated the Hilltoppers to win 25-16, 25-12, 25-9. Buchanan had the first kill of the game for the Vikings for a 2-1 lead and with the score at 5-5, Lakken Meredith served up six points with four of the serves un-returnable by the Toppers. Dannielle Dachel stepped to the service line with the Vikings up 12-8 and before she was done, the score was at 20-8 with two points on her ace serves and three from Buchanan kills. And at 24-16, Buchanan put down the winning kill.

Buchanan was unaware she needed only seven kills to surpass the 1,000 mark and it didn’t take her long to get that one as it happened on the first play of the second set. With younger sister Bryana serving, Lakken Meredith set the ball up and Kori blasted it down the middle. (The game kept going but at the end of the match, athletic director Wes Grambo announced to the crowd what had taken place). Chey Olson got into the flow with a kill, a block, a tip and an ace to put Colfax up 12-6 and the point spread widened to 22-11 on a shot from Dachel. Meredith then served up a pair of aces for the final two points of the set.

The Toppers were unable to return most of the Colfax serves in the third set and with Kori Buchanan, Olson, Marianne Scharlau and Bryana Buchanan all putting down slams, Colfax finished off the match on a Scharlau kill off a Meredith assist.

Besides Kori Buchanan’s 14 kills and eight digs, Olson had 12 kills and six digs of her own and Dachel added five kills and eight digs. Meredith finished with seven digs, eight service aces and 35 assists and Katie Christoffel came up with seven digs.

Unity

After a 6-6 score in the first set, Colfax began to put the hammer down against the Eagles as Kori Buchanan slammed three kills, Dachel served a pair of aces and Scharlau had a spike for a 14-6 lead. Olson’s block and kill upped the Vikings’ lead to 19-8 and with the score at 21-11, a Kori Buchanan kill,one by Dachel and two straight by Olson put the set away at 25-11.

Colfax kept the pressure on at the net and from the backcourt as they pulled out to a 12-4 lead in set two and with a Christofel ace and a block by Scharlau and Kori Buchanan, the lead was up to 16-5. A pair of kills by Olson sandwiched around two from Dachel made it 22-9 and at 24-11, Meredith slipped the ball over the net for the 25-11 win.

It looked like another short night for the visiting team was in store as the Vikings stormed out to a 17-3 lead in the third set before the Eagles battled back to get the score to 21-12.With Bryana Buchanan serving Colfax brought the score to 23-14 and Olson put down point number 24 and 25 down the middle for the 25-17 match win.

“Unity plays in a very good conference and has some athletic players,” coach Meredith said. “But we moved our feet well in the back row and got ourselves in position to cover most of their kill attempts.”

Kori Buchanan slammed 15 kills to go with 13 from Olson, Meredith put down seven service aces while Dachel had four. Olson led in digs with 15 and Dachel and Christoffel both had 13 as the team had 71 total digs for the match.

Grantsburg

Although coach Meredith has won a few regional crowns before as head coach at Spring Valley, this is her first with the Vikings. The 1997 title was won under the direction of Pat Groskopp as the team also won the Small Dunn-St. Croix Championship that year and went 15-0 in match play. Colfax lost to Bloomer in three sets, and ironically, Bloomer was beaten by Grantsburg in the sectional final. (Groskopp and Meredith are the only two coaches in Viking volleyball history).

It turned out to be sweet revenge for the Vikings after Grantsburg ended their season a year ago in the second round of the regional. The Pirates have been a dominate force in volleyball for many years, qualifying for the state meet 13 times since 1989. But Colfax was ready this year and although the first set was a nail biter until the very end, the Vikings pulled it out 25-22. The set was knotted 10 times in all and the Pirates had a 16-13 lead before Olson and Makayla Mattson combined for a block and Olson added a kill to get back to within a point. Kori Buchanan got heated up however, as she put down back to back slams to make it 18-18 and 19-19, and with two more kills from her it was 21-19. A couple of errors by the Pirates put the Vikings up 23-21 and an Olson block and a final shot into the net by Grantsburg gave Colfax set number one.

The Vikings were fired up to start the second set and with kills by Mattson and Sharlau they went up 8-2. Christoffel came up with an ace serve, then made a diving save on a Pirate shot to get the ball to the front where Kori Buchanan put it away for a 13-5 lead. A tip from Olson kept the lead at eight at 20-12 and with the score 23-15, Kori Buchanan came up with a block which frustrated the Pirates and they missed the next shot at the net, allowing Colfax to take the second set.

But as mentioned earlier, Grantsburg may be young but they have a strong tradition in volleyball and they were not going to go down easy. Set number three was tied at 3-3, 8-8 and again at 9-9 after Dachel set Kori Buchanan up for a kill, then the Vikings appeared they were going to pull away when they went up 16-10 on an Olson-Meredith block. They maintained a six point lead at 19-13 on a Scharlau block but the Pirates started to assert themselves again and cut the Colfax lead to a point at 21-20 and 22-21. After Colfax missed a kill attempt it was knotted at 22-22 but Olson took the lead back with a tip. A pair of net calls on Colfax put Grantsburg up 24-23 and Olson came through with another kill to tie it again. Another net error by the Vikings gave Grantsburg the lead but Mattson, just a freshman came up with a huge block for the point to make it 25-25. With Dachel serving, Scharlau scored on a tip down the middle and Kori Buchanan ended the match with a final kill which the Pirate player tried to return, but the ball went out of bounds for the 27-25 Viking win.

“I think the key to this win was our ability to receive the serve and get that good first pass to our setter,” coach Meredith said. “When you can do that, it is easier for our players to get kills and score points. We covered the floor very well and didn’t get frustrated when Grantsburg made some runs at us.We didn’t expect to win in three but we hoped we could because Grantsburg is a good team and you don’t want to let them back into the match.It was a great win for this team and they worked hard for it,” she added.

Kori Buchanan finished with 18 kills and 18 digs for the match, Olson added 10 kills, two blocks and 12 digs, Scharlau came up with six kills and three blocks, Meredith had 34 of the teams 39 assists and Bryana Buchanan had nine digs.

Colfax will travel to Cameron this Thursday night to take on the Comets, another number one seed. The Vikings have lost to the Comets twice in tournament play this season.

“The third time’s the charm, right?” coach Meredith said. “We will prepare for them the best we can.”