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It's crunch time on court

The Section 7 girls volleyball playoffs kicked off in earnest last week. Opening games in tournament action were played on Wednesday with second-round games played on Friday.

Section 7A

Barnum entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed in Subsection 1 in Section 7A and they have not dropped a set in two matches. Last Wednesday the Bombers opened tournament play by playing neighboring Wrenshall. The Wrens had entered the tournament seeded No. 8 and on Monday opened play by beating No. 9 Silver Bay. But on Wednesday, the Bombers easily handled the Wrens to the tune of 3-0 and continued that dominance Friday by beating No. 5 Cromwell-Wright 3-0. Cromwell-Wright had knocked off No. 4 seeded Cook County 3-2 to advance to the game vs. Barnum.

The other two local teams in Section 7A were South Ridge and Carlton. The Panthers came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed and the Bulldogs were the No. 6 seed. The two teams met Wednesday in Culver with the Panthers winning 3-0 as the Bulldogs. The Panthers moved on to second round action Friday and disposed of No. 2 Floodwood in Floodwood 3-2.

The four remaining teams in the tournament battled in the semifinals in Hibbing Wednesday. Barnum lost 3-1 to Northeast Range and South Ridge defeated Ely 3-2. The Section 7A championship game is set for 4 p.m. Saturday in Hibbing as the South Ridge takes on Northeast Range.

Section 7AA

Opening round play last Wednesday in 7AA saw Subsection 1 top seed Proctor down No. 8 Two Harbors 3-0. No. 2 Rush City eliminated No. 7 Moose Lake/Willow River. Esko, the No. 3 seed, beat No. 6 Hinckley-Finlayson 3-0 in Esko.

Esko, the lone local 7AA team left in the tournament, bowed out on Friday when they were beaten by Rush City 3-2. Rush City was the No. 2 Subsection 2 seed.

Section 7AAA

The Cloquet Lumberjacks are the lone Pine Knot area team playing in Section 7AAA. The Lumberjacks are experiencing one of the best seasons in school history with a record of 21-6. Cloquet, the No. 2 seed, opened play at home Friday against No. 7 Duluth Denfeld with the Lumberjacks winning handily 3-0. The win over Denfeld put the Lumberjacks in the semifinals against No. 3 Hermantown Wednesday. The ' Jacks pounded out a 3-1 win. Hermantown made the semifinal with a 3-0 victory over No. 6 seed Hibbing.

Cloquet defeated Hermantown just two weeks ago in the last game of the regular season, which allowed Cloquet to capture the Lake Superior Conference title.

Cloquet will face No. 1 Grand Rapids or No. 4 seed North Branch. The 7AAA championship game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, at Cloquet Middle School.