Heading into the Section 6-3A final against Forest Lake, the Elks weren’t expected to do much damage.

Elk River (16-15) proved their critics wrong, defeating the Rangers (20-10) 3-0 to advance to the state tournament for the first time in school history. The Elks are the lowest-seeded team from their class to advance to the Class 3A state tournament. Elk River redeemed itself after losing 3-0 to Forest Lake on Sept. 10.

Head coach Theresa Brummer said she was overwhelmed after Elk River’s win.

“There are no words to explain what this feels like,” Brummer said. “This is amazing. I am so happy for those girls. They worked hard and are so deserving of this. I’m elated.”

Although the Elks swept the match, all three sets were decided by four or fewer points. The Elks won sets one and three 25-21 and set two 25-22.

Senior libero Molly Bense said the Elks have something special this season.

“It’s great that we’re able to come through and finish,” Bense said. “They weren’t expecting much out of us. Right now, we’re playing the best we’ve played all season. We hope to continue it all the way to the state [championship match].”

After the Elks clinched match point, players stormed off the bench and embraced one another. The Rangers looked on in disbelief. Elk River outscored Forest Lake 75-64 in three sets. A crowd of Elk River students who travelled more than 15 miles to Andover to watch the match stormed the court.

When the Elk River fans left the court, both teams received medals and trophies. Forest Lake tearfully celebrated its second- place finished moments before senior captain Kaylin Plautz and the rest of the Elks put their hands on the section championship trophy for the first time ever.

Brummer said Elk River came prepared to battle.

“We kept our head all week,” she said. “What we did tonight was [we] stayed in the moment. We didn’t get ahead of ourselves.”

Offensive Player of the Match

Sophomore setter Elle Cotton led the Elks with 11 kills on 20 attempts. Cotton has averaged 5.1 kills per match this season including the postseason.

Defensive Player of the Match

Senior setter Clare Hilary had a team-high 18 digs on Saturday night. Hilary has been credited with 41 digs in Elk River’s last two matches.

What’s next

Elk River will face Wayzata (28-3) in the quarterfinal of the Class 3A state tournament on Thursday at 11 a.m. The Elks are the No. 7 seed in the tournament, while the Trojans are the No. 2 seed. Wayzata defeated Elk River 3-0 on Sept. 3. The winner will advance to play No. 3 Lakeville North (23-8) or No. 6 North St. Paul (22-5) in the state semifinal, while the loser will play in the consolation tournament on Friday. All Class 3A state tournament matches will take place at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Forest Lake’s season is over. For the first time since 2016, the Rangers will not advance to the state tournament.

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