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Cloquet, Esko in the hunt

Sectional volleyball play opened across the state of Minnesota last week. Up north the Section 7A tournament kicked things off at various locations Wednesday, Oct. 26, with larger schools joining the bid for a state tournament berth on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Section 7A

Floodwood received the No. 1 South seed and Ely gained the No. 1 North seed. Local teams included South Ridge, Carlton, Cromwell-Wright, Wrenshall and Barnum. The Bombers, the No. 7 seed, eliminated the Wrens, the No. 10 seed, in the south last Monday 3-0, and then Barnum was beaten by the No. 2 South seed South Ridge Panthers 3-0 on Wednesday. The loss eliminated the Bombers from the tournament. Carlton picked up the No. 3 South seed and downed sixth-seeded Silver Bay 3-2 on Wednesdays as well. The Cromwell-Wright Cards picked up the No. 4 South seed and downed the No. 5 seed Duluth Marshall 3-1.

The tournament continued Friday with Cromwell-Wright facing off against Floodwood, but it was the top-seeded Polar Bears coming away with a 3-1 win, which eliminated the Cardinals. South Ridge ended the Carlton season with a tight 3-2 win as the Panthers moved on to the semifinal round.

The tournament will continue on Wednesday, Nov. 2 after this issue of the Pine Knot went to press. The semifinal matches were Ely vs. South Ridge and Floodwood taking on Nashwauk-Keewatin.

Section 7AA

Only two local teams are represented in Section 7AA: Esko and Moose Lake/Willow River. The Eskomos gained the No. 3 South seed while the Rebels were the No. 5 South seed. ML/WR got eliminated in the opening round by Proctor 3-1.

The Eskomos opened the tournament with a 3-1 victory over the sixth-seeded Mora Mustangs last Wednesday. Then on Friday, Esko upset the No. 2 South seed Pine City 3-0. Esko advanced to the final four on Wednesday, Nov. 2 as this issue of the Pine Knot went to press.

Esko was set to play the top seed from the northern part of the section, Greenway, with the winner advancing to play the winner of the Rush City vs. International Falls game for the Section 7AA title.

Section 7AAA

Grand Rapids and Cloquet received the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, in the Section 7AAA tournament. Grand Rapids received a first-round bye and the Lumberjacks easily handled Duluth Denfeld last Thursday 3-0.

The win by Cloquet put them in the semifinal round against No. 3 Hermantown on Wednesday. Cloquet had downed the Hawks 3-1 two weeks ago - and the Lumberjacks prevailed again when it counted.

Playing at home, Cloquet won 3-1 in the best-of-five, by scores of 25-21, 19-25, 25-18 and 25-13.

Ava Carlson pounded 18 kills and collected 23 digs to pace Cloquet, which got 10 kills each from Aili Buytaert and Carly Johnson. Johnson added four aces, to go with 13 digs and 17 set assists. Ella Maslowski also had 17 assists to go with eight digs. Quinn Danielson pitched in 17 digs.

Cloquet will take on the winner of the Grand Rapids vs. North Branch game Wednesday. The 7AAA championship is set for Saturday, Nov. 5.

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