(Lenox) -- Southwest Valley only beat Lenox one of the three times they met this year, but they claimed the most important one, edging the Tigers in four sets in a Class 1A regional quarterfinal.
The Timberwolves avenged a five-set loss on September 22nd and a three-set defeat on October 13th to keep their season alive with a 20-25, 25-17, 25-12, 25-21 victory in a game heard on the KMAX-Stream.
"We really talked about letting things go," Coach Lindsay Wetzel said. "Cutting down our unforced errors and staying offensive."
The first set was a back-and-forth affair, but Lenox ultimately pulled away for the 25-20 victory, their sixth consecutive set victory over Southwest Valley.
"Just stay aggressive," Wetzel told her team after the first set. "Keep battling, we kinda tweaked some things defensively."
The Timberwolves finished the second set strong, breaking an 11-11 tie by scoring 14 of the final 20 points to claim the set 25-17 and tying the match at one set apiece.
The turning point of the match came in the third set when Southwest Valley broke free from a tight battle and mounted the final 11 points of the frame to take it 25-11. Southwest Valley's stellar run was spearheaded by junior Sam Larsen, who was clutch at the service line with three aces.
"Sam had a heckuva serve," Wetzel said. "We were just staying offensive. We didn't want to play it safe, we wanted to keep attacking."
"In my head, I was just thinking to hit it over and in," Larsen said. "There was a time at the beginning season where I was struggling."
The Timberwolves' strong run continued in the fourth set, where they scored the first three points. However, Lenox broke the drought and posted seven of the next eight to take a 7-4 lead. The two squads then proceeded to trade punches with ties at 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 before Southwest Valley finished the set, and the match, with the final four points.
"It definitely meant a lot after losing to them twice," Larsen said. "I'm glad we could do it."
It was a career night for Larsen, who posted 10 kills.
"She worked very hard yesterday in practice," Wetzel said of Larsen. "I think that really helped her."
Sam's sister, Marah, also had a stellar night with a team-high 11 kills. Isabelle Inman set up the offense for the Timberwolves (15-13) with 33 assists. Inman also led the team in digs with 14 while Marah Larsen added 13 and Maggie Haer had 11.
Lenox was unofficially paced in the defeat by 12 kills from senior TJ Stoaks. The Tigers' season concludes at 11-7. Stoaks, Cassidy Nelson, Skye Bartlett, Jordan England, Michala Standley, and Lauren Christensen all donned the Tigers uniform for the final team.
Southwest Valley's victory secures them a regional semifinal date with Southeast Warren. The Warhawks enter Monday's showdown at 24-0 and ranked No. 5 in the state. Despite being in the same conference, the two squads did not meet this year.
"We are going to have to play our best ball," Coach Wetzel said. "We need to play the best we can, but whatever happens, happens."
The complete interviews with the Larsen sisters and Coach Wetzel can be viewed below.