Meridian took care of Exeter-Milligan in two sets to set up a Class D1 State Championship rematch against Johnson-Brock on Thursday.

The Mustangs defeated Exeter-Milligan 25-14, 25-14 in the semifinals of the MUDECAS A Division Tournament Tuesday night.

It was the third time in the last week that Meridian has defeated the Timberwolves. They are now 9-0 on the season.

Meridian got off to a hot start in both sets, building a 6-1 early lead in each set. The Timberwolves never got within less than four the rest of the way in the first set. They did battle back to make it 11-9 in the second set, but a 6-0 run by the Mustangs put the match away.

Meridian coach Bob VanWesten said he likes how his team stayed with it and never let up against Exeter-Milligan.

"Any time (Exeter-Milligan) scored one or two, we could usually side out and get our serve right back," VanWesten said. "And we served really well."

VanWesten said despite having beaten Exeter-Milligan twice earlier in the week, his team wasn't looking past the Timberwolves.

"It concerns me because Coach (Darcy) White is so good, you think she might pick up on something and hurt you," VanWesten said. "But whatever they changed, the girls were able to pick up on it and it wasn't a problem for us."

Halle Pribyl and Rylee Pieper had eight kills each for Meridian while Lauren DeLord had two kills and Hailey Schaefer and Josiee Sobotka had one kill each.

Erin Johnson dished out 18 assists and had five ace serves.

"Erin Johnson runs the show for us and can also provide offense for us because she knows where the holes are," VanWesten said. "And then we've got five hitters that do a good job of attacking. We are really hitting smart right now and moving it around and everybody is getting involved."

Defensively, Pribyl and Pieper had a block each while Jaicee Sobotka had 18 digs.

The win sets up a state championship rematch with Johnson-Brock, who is 13-0 on the season. The Eagles did lose their first set of the year in their semifinal match against Freeman Tuesday night.

Johnson-Brock defeated Meridian in four sets in last year's D1 State Championship. Meridian had beat the Eagles the week before state in the district final.

Johnson-Brock junior big hitter Fallon Stutheit had 26 kills against Freeman Tuesday night.

VanWesten said they will have to stay aggressive and not let Johnson-Brock's big hitters bother them too much.

"You know they are going to get some big hits on us with their weapons, but you can't let a point or two bother you," VanWesten said. "You have to keep coming back at them and try to get them out of system. Whoever can bother the others system the most will have the advantage."

VanWesten said it will be a big match on Thursday, but it's just one match in a long season.

"Our girls know where they need to be at the end of the year," VanWesten said. "Every game is important no matter if it's the championship or a regular season game. Knowing our district, it's going to be tough late in the season, so we have to stay after it all season and so far, the girls have done a good job with that."

Thursday's A Division matchups

(All games at Truman Center)

Consolation Final: HTRS vs. BDS  2 p.m.

Third place match: Freeman vs. Exeter-Milligan 5 p.m.

Championship: Meridian vs. Johnson-Brock  8 p.m.


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