Parents, grandparents and fans (pictured above) showed up in downtown Onamia in late afternoon on Oct. 29 to display a giant banner in support of the second-seeded OHS Panther’s volleyball team who were headed for Aitkin High for a showdown against the top-seeded Pine River-Backus Tigers in one of four sub-section semi-finals of the Section 5A volleyball tournament.
Onamia had beaten Ogilvie and Braham to reach the semis. In the past 15 seasons, however, Onamia had never advanced past the third game of the sections, winning at least one match in 12 years, winning two matches in four years, but never winning a third one.
Unfortunately, that string of never winning a third section match continued last Tuesday when the Tigers beat the Panthers in three straight sets.
Set one was close through the first half before Pine River-Backus went on an 11-7 run to win by nine points.
Set two was close. How close? The score was tied 10 times, and the lead changed hands eight times. Down 16-11, Onamia, off the serving of MaKayla Balder, who recorded four straight aces, took a brief 17-16 lead. Tied 21-21, the Tigers put the game away with four straight points, including a gift of a serve into the net by the Panthers, followed by a Tiger ace, a missed kill into the net by Onamia and a final power kill by PR-B.
Onamia stayed with Pine River-Backus through a 10-10 tie on kills by Lily Orazem, Kailee Barnett and Shayla Nayquonabe in set three, but miscues down the stretch by the Panthers allowed the Tigers to run away with the game and the match.
For the match, PR-B out-killed Onamia, 32-29, and led in aces, 10-6. Orazem led Onamia in kills with 10, followed by six each from Barnett and Balder.
Pine River Backus was scheduled to play Walker-Hackensack-Akeley in one sub-section final while Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa was to take on Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunberg in the other sub-section final. The winner of the two subsections will represent Section 5A at the state volleyball tournament.
Onamia finished their season with an overall record of 19-10.
Tuesday’s match was the final time in a Panther’s uniform for seniors Missy Dahl and Orazem.
Onamia 16 21 16
PR-B 25 25 25