Somerset volleyball uses strong competition to prepare for conference scheduleSomerset’s volleyball team began its Middle Border Conference season this Thursday with a home match against Prescott.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Somerset’s volleyball team began its Middle Border Conference season this Thursday with a home match against Prescott. To prepare for the conference season, the Spartans have been playing a challenging non-conference schedule.
On Saturday the Spartans played four matches in a tournament in Hudson. All four matches were closely contested, with Somerset getting one win among the four.
Somerset began the day against Prescott. The Spartans don’t seem to be a morning team. Prescott was able to score a 25-18, 25-19 win in that match.
Errors in returning serves cost the Spartans against Prescott. The Spartans were also playing without senior Ellie Vanasse for most of the day, because she was taking her ACT test.
In the second round Somerset and Superior locked into a barn burner. Superior scored a 25-21, 27-25 win. The Spartans cut their serve receive errors in half from the first to second matches. They got strong play in the front row from Sarah Northey, who led the team with 12 kills. Sami Martell led a strong serving attack.
In the third round the Spartans overwhelmed Big Rivers Conference opponent Menomonie. The Spartans won both games on 25-10 scores.
In the final match the Spartans locked into a full-scale tussle with Bloomer. Bloomer took the first game 25-22, but the Spartans rebounded with a 25-20 win. The third game was close the whole way, with Bloomer pulling out a 15-13 win.
Laura Wells hit her serving stride in the final two matches. She served 15 times against Menomonie and 12 times against Bloomer. Combined in those two matches, Wells scored with nine ace serves.
Vanasse returned for the Bloomer match and she led the team with 13 kills. Bridget Kieckhoefer scored with 10 kills and Sarah Krig added eight kills.
Spartan coach Sarah Praschak said the importance of the passing of Wells and Lauren Rathai, the team’s leading back row specialists, was displayed in this match.
“The only way we can run our offense is because those two are passing so well,” Praschak said.
Win at Central
The depth of talent on the Spartan team showed when they won a dual match at St. Croix Central last Thursday, 25-22, 25-19, 25-13.
After not playing for eight days, it took a game for the Spartans to reach maximum speed. Once they did, they put up a strong attack against the Panthers.
Praschak said the Spartans spent much of their eight-day break working to improve their passing. That work paid off, with the Spartans letting very few of Central’s hits reach the floor.
Wells was busy in the back row, returning 20 of Central’s serves in the match. Rathai was next on that list with eight. Wells led the team with eight digs, followed by Rathai with six.
When the Spartans got control of the serve, they didn’t give it back easily. Anna Marson led the team with 19 serves in the match. Wells served 13 times, with Markell Penman, Kieckhoefer and Northey each serving nine times.
The Spartans can put up quite an array of hitters and that showed in their kill results. Kieckhoefer and Vanasse led the team with seven kills each, while Krig scored with six and Marson with four. Vanasse led the team with 10 blocks and Krig had six. Kieckhoefer finished with seven blocks, including three solo block kills.
Praschak said the progress made by the seniors since last season is a key to the team’s sharp play.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group. They’re outstanding leaders,” she said.