Cloquet dismisses Esko, advances to Final FourAlex Oakes & Company took care of Esko, sweeping the Eskomos’ season to an end, 25-9, 25-22, 25-15.
By: Brady Slater, Pine Journal
PROCTOR — Prior to Cloquet’s Section 7AA playoff against Esko on Friday, Alex Oakes and her teammates took note of a rival team wiping the floor with an opponent.
“It was a huge motivator,” the team captain Oakes said of watching top-seeded Hermantown knock off International Falls. “They were confident and had so much energy. They were wearing their conference championship shirts, I noticed.”
Afterward, Oakes & Company took care of Esko, sweeping the Eskomos’ season to an end, 25-9, 25-22, 25-15. Esko (12-13) flashed at points in the match, but an early 10-point service run by Katie Zezulka set a winning tone for Cloquet.
The Lumberjacks got six kills each from juniors Oakes and Sami Westendorf, who were pounding at a fever pitch to start the third game against Esko. It was the sort of efficient attack they’d need to carry them past the Hawks.
The victory over Esko set up Wednesday’s Cloquet-Hermantown rematch at Denfeld in the Section 7AA semifinals. In the regular season finale for both teams earlier this month, the Hawks came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Cloquet and take the Lake Superior Conference title in the process. Hermantown won it at 6-0 and Cloquet (18-5) fell to second at 5-1.
Coach Heidi Anderson put things into perspective heading into the much-anticipated rematch.
“You always say ‘We hope to get another shot at them down the road,’ and now we do.”