Somerset volleball makes its presence known at the netThe bigger they are, the harder they - hit a volleyball.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The bigger they are, the harder they - hit a volleyball.
That’s what the Somerset volleyball team proved in Baldwin last Thursday. The Spartans ruled the action at the net, leading to a three-game sweep over Baldwin-Woodville. The win moves the Spartans into a tie for the Middle Border Conference lead with the Blackhawks and Ellsworth. All three teams have 4-1 conference records.
The Spartans won the match 25-16, 25-17 and 25-22. The Spartans set the tone for the match in the opening minutes, breaking out to a 13-4 lead. The Spartans recorded several block kills in those opening moments and that discouraged the B-W hitters from trying to send across hits that barely cleared the net.
Somerset coach Sarah Praschak said she was impressed with how focused the Spartans were to begin the match.
“We had a lot at stake and the girls were up for the challenge. They didn’t show any fear; they showed determination,” Praschak said.
The diversity of Somerset’s attack kept the B-W defense guessing. Senior Ellie Vanasse led the net attack, but Bridget Kieckhoefer, Sarah Northey and Sarah Krig all contributed a significant numnrt of kills during the match.
Vanasse has been as dominating as any hitter in the conference this season. There have been stretches where she’s completely taken over games. One of those stretches came late in the second game. B-W put together a nice charge to tie the score at 17-17. Vanasse then took over. She put away four kills in a five-point stretch that carried the Spartans to the 25-17 win.
Vanasse finished the match with a team-high 15 kills. Kieckhoefer finished with 10, Northey with eight and Krig with six.
The Spartans’ height led to a big number of blocks. Praschak said there were times the Spartans used as many as three blockers to send the message that B-W wasn’t going to get any easy hit kills. Vanasse scored on five solo blocks and Krig scored on three. Krig led the team in block assists with seven, followed by Vanasse with six.
Serving was another key weapon for the Spartans. It seemed like whenever B-W made a run, it was Kieckhoefer’s turn to serve and she’d get those points back for the Spartans. She led the team with 14 serves, followed by Anna Marson and Sami Martell with 12 and Markell Penman with nine. The Spartans limited themselves to three missed serves in the match.
This was one of Somerset’s best efforts in anticipating where opponents’ hits and serves were going. That resulted in fewer bad passes off serves and more successful digs. The Spartans cut their serve return errors down to five on Thursday, which is a vast improvement from their season high of 29. They also had a ton of digs as both teams excelled at keeping the ball alive. Laura Wells led the team with 15 digs, followed by Lauren Rathai with 10. Martell and Penman each had nine. Wells was also tops in successful passes with 24, followed by Rathai with 15.
The Spartans were also winners in a conference match last Tuesday at Amery. This was an awkward match for both teams involved because Amery’s volleyball team was the first Warrior team to compete following the death of one of the Amery football captains over the weekend.
Somerset earned a 25-13, 25-16, 25-10 win in the match.
“Amery did the best they could,” Praschak said. “It was a difficult situation. Everyone just did their best to play the game.”
The Spartans used their potent serving to control the match. Marson and Kieckhoefer combined to serve 29 times and they each scored three ace serves. Penman and Wells each scored nine times. The Spartans only missed three serves in the match.
The hitting was led by the middle hitters. Vanasse and Krig combined for 21 kills in the win.
The Spartans get a rare Thursday off this week. Their next action will be in a tournament at Altoona this Saturday. The Spartans will complete their conference schedule next Tuesday, when they compete at Osceola.