At the beginning of the girls tennis season, Blue Earth Area head coach Terry Barnes felt the year would come down to one thing.
"We have to figure out a way to beat USC," he commented. "We could face them at the end of the season."
He was right.
On Monday afternoon, Barnes' BEA Bucs came close to accomplishing that pre-season goal, but fell just a bit short.
The United South Central Rebels defeated the Buccaneers 4-3 in the Section 2A Championship match held at Gustavus Adolphus College on Monday.
The win propels the Rebels, now 20-2 on the year, into the State Tennis Tournament which will be held Oct. 22-25.
Earlier in the day on Monday, the Bucs had defeated Sibley East 5-2 and the Rebels had shut out Jordan 7-0 in semifinal action.
In the championship match, BEA had the upper hand in doubles action, winning two of three, but USC came out ahead in singles play, taking three of the four matches.
At No. 1 singles, USC's senior star Claire Christian defeated junior Karleigh Wolff 6-1, 6-1 to notch a win for the Rebels.
Buc junior Kaitlyn Olsen came through with a hard-fought two-set win for the Bucs at No. 2 singles over another junior, Linsey Thisius.
After taking the first set 6-4, Olsen had to battle to a long 7-6 (8-6) win in the second set.
USC sophomore Kia Legred defeated BEA senior Lindsey Prokop at No. 3 singles, 6-2, 6-0. And Rebel senior Julia Stenzel shut out Buc junior Kali Viland 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4 singles.
A pair of Buccaneer sophomores, Natali Fellows and Karli Olsen, won two hard sets, 7-5, 7-5, over junior Joyce Rubio and sophomore Angela Bixby at the No. 1 doubles spot.
In the No. 2 doubles match up, BEA junior Beka Krussow and sophomore Paige Darrington combined for an easy 6-2, 6-1 win over USC ninth-grader Leah Meyer and eighth-grader Carley Weber.
It was a tremendous match at No. 3 doubles, with the USC duo coming out on top.
Rebel eighth-grader Emma Brand and sophomore Kelly Neubauer pulled out a narrow 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) win over BEA's sophomore team of Anikka Wilhelmi and Annaliese Klinkner.
"We changed things around a bit," Coach Barnes says. "And the strategy nearly worked."
The Buccaneers end their team season with a 14-6 overall record and were 2-3 in the South Central Conference.
Both teams will now also be sending players to the Section Individual Tennis Tournament being held this past Thursday and on Monday, Oct. 14.
BEA 5, Sibley East 2
The Blue Earth Area Buccaneers lost just one singles and one doubles match on their way to a semifinals 5-2 win against Sibley East last Monday morning.
One of the Bucs' losses came at No. 1 singles, where Karleigh Wolff fell 6-2, 6-2 to Breann Walsh of Sibley East.
At No. 2 singles, Kaitlyn Olsen cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win over Mariah Schrupp.
Buccaneer Lindsey Prokop notched a victory at No. 3 singles, 6-3, 6-1, over Ella Lundstrom. And, at No. 4 singles, Anikka Wilhelmi won 6-2, 6-2 over Kim Kurtzweg.
In doubles action, Natali Fellows and Karli Olsen defeated Alli Harter and Alicia Kranz 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1 doubles.
In the No. 2 doubles slot, Beka Krussow and Paige Darrington also won, defeating Faith Young and Ashley Mercier by scores of 6-3, 6-4.
Kali Viland and Annaliese Klinkner lost their No. 3 doubles match to Elizabeth Thies and Lindsey Flieth, 6-4, 6-3.