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Volleyball: Eagles turn back upset bid

New Life Academy's Lauren Wicklund (22) and Hannah Nelson (21) rise to block a shot in game two. (Bulletin photo by John Molene)1 / 4
Junior Nadia Nelson of New Life Academy puts one down from the corner in game one Tuesday against visiting Legacy Christian Academy. (Bulletin photo by John Molene)2 / 4
Kate Rogers serves for the Eagles in game four. Serving was a key factor in the Eagles' win over Legacy Christian Academy Tuesday. (Bulletin photo by John Molene)3 / 4
New Life Academy's Rachel Tateosian powers a shot past a Legacy Christian Academy opponent. (Bulletin photo by John Molene)4 / 4

One can forgive New Life Academy's Eagles if they were overlooking Legacy Christian Academy coming into Tuesday’s contest.

The Lions had won just 5 of 20 matches entering Monday's contest against the Eagles.

But Legacy Christian gave the favored Eagles everything they could handle before eventually falling in five, 25-20, 20-25, 20-25, 25-22 and 15-13.

“I think we came in thinking it would be a pretty, not an easy game, but easier than it would be,” said Hannah Nelson, who led the Eagles with 17 kills. “I think in the end it was just who wanted to win more. And we picked up our energy and played better as a team together.”

It took a real gut check for the Eagles to pull this one out.

And it was a big win for the Eagles, as they, too had been struggling, coming off a 0-3 performance at the Blaine Invitational.

New Life improved its record to 9-11 overall and to 5-1 in Minnesota Christian school standings, a match back of conference leader and fourth-ranked Heritage Christian.

Legacy Christian Academy slipped to 5-16 and 3-3 in the conference.

New Life Academy came out strong and controlled the first set, before winning by five.

But it was the upstart Lions who had things go their way in sets two and three, winning both.

“It was one of those nights in the middle of the season when you don’t have your best stuff, and we know in a long season we’re not going to be at our best all the time. We talked about that toward the end of the match, especially when we lost those two,” said New Life Academy coach Wally Bomgren. “We made a lot of errors. I don’t know if the other team won those, I think we kind of lost those. But when we won game four, we won that. And I think we definitely won game five.”

Set four was tight, but the Eagles pulled away from a 12-all tie to score five straight points. Legacy Christian closed to within 22-20 but could come no closer. Kate Rogers had a big tip to give the Eagles a 24-22 lead.

Set five was tight the whole way. The two teams were tied at 6-all, 10-all and 11-all. Hannah Nelson scored a big kill for a 14-12 New Life advantage, and the Eagles were able to close out the match one point later.

“The big thing that started us in four and five was our back row people,” Bomgren said. “Mackenzie Porupsky and Nadia Nelson and Dani Miller – I could see the determination in their eyes. They were going to really move quickly on serve receive, and they were not going to let the ball hit the floor on defense.”

Nadia Nelson had 13 kills and freshman Abbie Swenson came in and knocked down four or five kills for the Eagles.  

“I think our momentum at the end really picked up and we played as a team together and that really helped us,” said Porupsky.

The Eagles now play four of their next five matches on the road, starting with a match at Holy Angels Monday, Oct. 10.