BLUE EARTH — To say the Blue Earth Area Bucs girls tennis team found its collective rhythm against the River Valley Wildcats would be an understatement.
No. 2-seeded Blue Earth Area reeled off five consecutive team points during an 11-minute span Monday to pace a 7-0 Section 3A Team quarterfinal triumph over No. 7-seeded River Valley at Hal Schroeder Courts in Blue Earth.
The Bucs (12-1) advance to play host to No. 3-seeded Luverne (9-3) in a sectional semifinal at a time to be determined Thursday back at Schroeder Courts. The Cardinals downed Maple River, 6-1, in Monday’s quarterfinal.
St. James Area (12-0), the Big South Conference champion which received a quarterfinal bye Monday, plays host to United South Central in Thursday’s other sectional semifinal. USC defeated Pipestone Area, 5-2, Monday.
“We’d better come ready to play in the next round against Luverne,” said Blue Earth Area head coach Konny Wolff. “They (the Cardinals) extended us to three three-setters during our cross-over meet, so they’ll be a good test for us Thursday.”
With the No. 1 singles match waiting for an open playing surface at the six-court tennis facility, the Bucs’ third doubles team of Cali Beyer and Olivia Dutton triggered a chain reaction of wins at 4:55 p.m. Monday.
Beyer’s putaway shots near the net and Dutton’s sideline-to-sideline coverage produced a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Maya Nelson and Courtlyn Runck to stake BEA to a quick 1-0 lead in the team scoring.
Four minutes later, Marissa Benz pounded out a 6-0, 6-1 victory over the Wildcats’ Kaydince Thoms during second singles action. Benz’s potent serving delivered Point 2 to the Bucs on the team ledger.
Third singles netter Arika Howard’s assortment of forehand winners from the baseline and on the move fueled her 6-1, 6-0 win over Kiera Lafferty at the 5:01 p.m. mark before Buc teammate Addison Armstrong officially clinched the sectional team triumph with a 6-3, 6-0 victory. Armstrong’s potent backhand winners chalked up the fourth team tally over Taylor Berkner at fourth singles.
BEA’s McKenna Dutton and Kylie Rosenau kept their feet on the accelerator to motor their way to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Megan Stevens and Alexis Garza at No. 1 doubles. Dutton and Rosenau notched their point at the 5:06 p.m. juncture for a 5-0 Bucs’ margin.
With the team decision in hand, Lyndsey Borris and Britt Howard combined court skills at No. 2 doubles to claim a supertiebreaker to 10 in place of an entire third set. The BEA tandem claimed the opening set by a 6-1 decision before losing a 6-3 second-set decision to Erika Lozano and Sydne Wahl.
Borris’ saves from beyond the baseline and Howard’s alley-finding winners engineered the Bucs’ 10-6 victory in the decisive supertiebreaker.
Te’a Armstrong then capped the Bucs’ sectional shutout by coasting by Brooklyn Moldan at first singles, 6-0, 6-1. Armstrong’s court coverage proved clutch down the stretch.
Ironically, BEA won six consecutive team points during a 10-minute stretch en route to a 7-0 win over River Valley on Sept. 24
Section 3A Quarterfinals
B.E. Area 7, River Valley 0
No. 1: Te’a Armstrong (BEA) def. Brooklyn Moldan, 6-0, 6-1.
No. 2: Marissa Benz (BEA) def. Kaydince Thoms, 6-0, 6-1.
No. 3: Arika Howard (BEA) def. Kiera Lafferty, 6-1, 6-0.
No. 4: Addison Armstrong (BEA) def. Taylor Berkner, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 1: McKenna Dutton-Kylie Rosenau (BEA) def. Megan Stevens-Alexis Garza, 6-1, 6-2.
No. 2: Lyndsey Borris-Britt Howard (BEA) def. Erika Lozano-Sydne Wahl, 6-1, 3-6, (10-6).
No. 3: Cali Beyer-Olivia Dutton (BEA) def. Maya Nelson-Courtlyn Runck, 6-1, 6-0.
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