No streak can last forever.
As inevitable as victories can start to seem in the midst of a years-long winning streak, eventual losses are unavoidable.
On Tuesday night, Northfield saw a pair of impressive streaks end, while a third might be over in less than a week. Traveling to play at Rochester Mayo, the Raiders lost their first set against a Big 9 Conference opponent since 2016.
Then, the Spartans (12-3, 8-0 Big 9 Conference) pulled out a dramatic five-set 25-22, 12-25, 17-25, 26-24, 17-15 victory to deliver the Raiders (16-5, 8-1) their first conference loss since 2016.
Assuming Rochester Mayo takes care of business the rest of the way against Winona (1-14) and Albert Lea (7-11), Northfield will also cede the conference title for the first time since 2016.
For the second and third sets Tuesday, the Raiders played the part of conference bully while outscoring the Spartans 50-29. In the other three sets, though, Rochester Mayo won a handful of crucial points to win three close sets and the match, despite Northfield finishing with a 111-97 advantage in overall points.
The two middle hitters for the Raiders — Annelise Larson and Maddie McDowell — were both excellent. McDowell finished with 11 kills on just 17 attempts, while Larson added 10 kills on only 19 attempts. Neither registered a hitting error.
Defensively, McDowell added a solo block and four block assists, while Larson provided three block assists.
Sydney Jaynes led the offensive charge with a team-high 17 kills, while Addison Ertz added eight kills. Teagan Timperley provided 36 assists and Teagan Jaynes finished with 16 assists.
At the service line, Lucy Larson made her only statistical contribution count with three aces, while Timperley tallied two aces, and Sydney and Teagan Jaynes both finished with one ace.
On the back row defensively, Bella Rushing and Sydney Jaynes both tallied 17 digs.
All that was not enough to hold back a Rochester Mayo team determined to upset the conference’s status quo, and potentially the pecking order in Section 1-4A.
With none of Northfield, Lakeville North and Lakeville South residing in top-five of the state rankings, Rochester Mayo leaves Tuesday night’s win with the top Quality Results Formula (QRF) ranking in the section according to minnesota-scores.net.
The Spartans are ranked No. 7 in QRF in Class 4A, while Northfield is No. 13 and Lakeville North is No. 15.
Moving forward, the Raiders have another week of the regular season to prepare for what looks like a wide open section tournament and perhaps snap another streak to win the program’s first section title in history.
That closing stretch starts Thursday at home against Faribault (9-13), continues this weekend at the marquee Bachman Invitational at Lakeville North and concludes Tuesday, Oct. 19 at Rochester John Marshall (9-12).