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The Bucks coasted to a 25-5, 25-23, 25-19 win over the Tigers to advance to the state quarterfinals

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - St. Paul junior Stella Koch goes up for the kill against Central Christian in the second round of the 1A state playoffs on Oct. 29.

After downing Triangle Lake in three sets on Wednesday, Oct. 26, St. Paul found themselves matched up with No. 14 seed Central Christian in the second round. It was another quick win the Bucks, who won 3-0 (25-5, 25-23, 25-19). In the quarterfinals, St. Paul (26-5) will face Powder Valley (23-7).

Against Central Christian, there was a sense that St. Paul let the Tigers hang around longer than they should have, according to head coach Lesli Hiller.

"I think they get comfortable sometimes," Hiller said of her team. "When they beat somebody that bad, I think it was 25-5 in the first. I think it's just, they get comfortable and when they're playing an easier team they can get comfortable and it's hard for them to get into the mode of, 'No, you still have to play hard.'"

There are five days between the Central Christian and Powder Valley matchups to tighten up mental and technical aspects of the Bucks game, and Hiller will make sure that the team uses them to improve.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - St. Paul coach Lesli Hiller talks with Central Christian coach Mike Polk after their playoff encounter.

"Every practice we're improving or working on something we want to get better at," Hiller said. "They all know it, they work hard at it in every practice. That's why they came up the theme, 'Earn greatness,' they knew they weren't going to just get handed it. They knew they had to earn it, they had to get better than they were last year because last year we ended up second."

The team lost in the state championship game last season to North Douglas, a team that once again will be competing in the state tournament at Ridgeview. For St. Paul, journeying down to Redmond has become a normal part of the volleyball season, but it makes the trip no less special.

"It feels great," Hiller said. "It's something we always strive for every season, and it feels great to get back there. I think if we would have played a little bit better tonight we would have been a little more hyped up afterwards."

St. Paul and Powder Valley will face off on Nov. 4 at 3:15 p.m. on Court 1 at Ridgeview High School.

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