Prep report: Esko hits its way into section final

The Eskomos will face Rush City in the nightcap of a section final tripleheader at Hermantown High School.

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Esko's Kyra Johnson (9) attacks a Greenway double block during a Section 7AA semifinal match at Hermantown High School on Wednesday.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
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Esko picked a great time to have a big night offensively, sweeping Greenway 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-12) at Hermantown High School for a spot in Saturday's Section 7AA championship.

The Eskomos, seeded third in the south subsection, got 18 kills and four blocks from Gabby Martenson and 17 kills from Kyra Johnson in earning their second consecutive victory over a higher-seeded opponent. Kaitlin Lattner did much of the distributing with 35 assists, while Lizzie Hartlieb helped hold down the back line with a 15-dig performance.

For Greenway, Ava Johnson posted 11 kills and Lexi Hammer had 30 assists.

Esko (21-8) will face Rush City, the top seed from the south subsection. The Tigers (26-1) dismissed International Falls 3-0 (25-11, 25-9, 25-19) in a section semifinal between teams separated by a mere 240 miles. The AA match will be the nightcap of a section final tripleheader at Hermantown High School on Saturday, with first serve at 6 p.m.

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The Esko bench reacts after the Eskomos completed a 3-0 sweep of Greenway in a Section 7AA volleyball semifinal on Wednesday at Hermantown High School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
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Greenway's Kyra Williams attacks during a Section 7AA semifinal vs. Esko on Wednesday at Hermantown High School.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal


Grand Rapids 3, North Branch 1

Grand Rapids got pushed to a fourth set for only the third time this season but not any further, as the Thunderhawks knocked off North Branch 25-13, 25-18, 29-31, 25-21 in a Section 7AAA semifinal in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Braya LaPlant recorded her 2,000th career assist in the Thunderhawks' win.

The victory sets up a rematch of last year's section final, in which Grand Rapids swept Cloquet in Hermantown. The teams will meet again on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the same venue.

Cloquet did take a set off the Thunderhawks when the teams met on Oct. 13 in Grand Rapids, though all four of the 25-4 Thunderhawks' losses came in weekend tournaments to teams from outside Section 7.

Floodwood 3, Nashwauk-Keewatin 1

The Polar Bears recovered from losing the first set to get one match away from the school's first state volleyball tournament trip ever with a semifinal win on Wednesday at Hibbing.

The Spartans took the opener 25-22, but Floodwood took the last three 25-20, 25-21, 25-18.

Kylie Hart pierced the 2,000-assist plateau with 49 more on the big stage. The chief recipient was Kenzie Kiminski who led her team at the net with 16 kills and on the back line with 24 digs.

Darby Autio added 12 kills, 14 digs and five aces, while Nakaiyah Nimene added 10 kills.


Ely 3, South Ridge 0

The Timberwolves are also seeking a first state tournament berth in school history and brushed South Ridge out of their way on Wednesday in Hibbing, 25-18, 25-15, 25-15.

Hannah Penke had 13 kills and 13 digs for the Timberwolves, who are one of only two undefeated teams remaining in Minnesota (the other is Nova Classical Academy).

Kate Couglin led the defense with 18 digs, while Rachel Couglin added 10 kills.

Ely and Floodwood will be the middle game of Saturday's Hermantown tripleheader, starting at 4 p.m.

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