After losing in two games to Payson-Seymour in Friday’s first semifinal, the Norsemen rebounded to seize leads of 9-8, 14-13 and 15-14 in Game 1. Malone overcame some early hitting errors to spark the Norsemen.
But Durand’s overall talent, especially junior outside hitter McKenzie Damon (11 kills) wore down the Norsemen. Damon tallied two straight kills to give the Bulldogs (35-2) a 20-16 lead that they would not relinquish.
In Game 2, Durand built a lead of 18-11, but Malone knocked down a kill and an ace to cut the deficit to 18-13 before the Bulldogs mounted a match-closing run.
Grayson said the Norsemen learned many lessons throughout their first trip to state.
“We need another weapon or two,” she said. “We need to beef up our blocking, and part of that is getting more size on the right-side. I felt that was probably the area we were most exposed…We just couldn’t match up out there against both [state] teams.
“Madi flourished [this year]. I can hardly wait to see what she will look a year from now, and another year from that. We have a lot of kids coming back, that’s what’s fun.”