by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Zimmerman Thunder made a nice playoff run this season but it ended on Thursday evening with a 3-0 semifinal loss to the Fridley Tigers.
The No. 2 seeded Tigers (22-9) held off the Thunder 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 in Fridley, advancing to the Section 5AA finals against top-seeded Maple Lake.
Zimmerman, seeded sixth among 16 teams, beat Milaca and No. 3 Park Center to advance to the section semi’s for the first time. They finished 12-15.
The Thunder rallied from a 23-19 deficit to knot the game at 23 in game one, but the surge ended with a net violation and Fridley put down a kill to close out the match.
“To come that close and not win (the game), it took the wind out of our sails,” said coach Rita Belka. “But Fridley is a nice team with a lot of power that’s been together for three years. This is their year.”
Rachel Duehn led Fridley with 13 kills and Caitlin Huna was next with seven. Nicole Langiewicz was the defensive leader with 36 digs.
For the Thunder, Brooke Borchardt notched 11 kills, Nicki O’Keefe 10 and Janae Mettling eight. Abby Kratzke had 10 digs and Emily Garmen nine. Amanda Meleen made 26 assists, and Mettling served 15-for-15 with three aces.
It was the finale for seniors Kratzke, Garmen and Mettlling.
“They’re great kids, great students,” said Belka. “We’ll have a good foundation for next year but there’ll be a hole. We’ll miss them.”