Somerset volleyball moves one step closer to MBC titleSomerset’s volleyball team moved one step closer to a Middle Border Conference championship by sweeping three games from Durand last Tuesday.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Somerset’s volleyball team moved one step closer to a Middle Border Conference championship by sweeping three games from Durand last Tuesday.
The win raises Somerset’s MBC record to 5-1. As the Spartans started this week, they were tied with Baldwin-Woodville for the MBC lead. The final round of conference play was scheduled for this Tuesday, when Somerset played at Osceola and Baldwin-Woodville played at New Richmond.
In Somerset’s win over Durand, the Spartans took charge early. They opened the night with 25-9 and 25-11 wins. They stumbled a bit in the third game before polishing off the night’s action with a 25-17 win in the third game.
This was Somerset’s “Dig Pink” Night, with the team decked out in pink uniforms. The event was a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s battle against breast cancer. The event raised several hundred dollars, while the Spartans played in front of one of their largest crowds, with most of their fans wearing pink. The Spartans also recognized the middle school volleyball teams at the match, adding to the crowd.
Somerset coach Sarah Praschak said the community got behind the team’s effort to raise cancer awareness. The pink uniforms were donated by Snap Fitness and Carpets by Mike and several local businesses made donations.
The large, vocal crowd had the Spartans primed to play. Durand was simply overmatched in this clash. Durand doesn’t have exceptional height or passing. As well as the Spartans have played recently, you better have one or both of those assets to stay even with Somerset.
Passing was the name of the game this night. Somerset’s serving was exceptional, with the team missing one serve in the entire match.
“Our game was all about serving. We served them right off the court,” said Somerset coach Sarah Praschak.
Senior Anna Marson led the serving charge, being on target with 19 serves, including three aces. Bridget Kieckhoefer, Laura Wells and Emilee Wolf were all in double digits for serves and they combined for five aces.
With the serving dominating so much of the scoring, the Spartan front liners didn’t have as many hitting opportunities as usual. Sarah Northey and Ellie Vanasse shared the team lead with seven kills, with Kieckhoefer adding six. Sarah Krig had a big night blocking, with five solo blocks and eight assists. Vanasse finished with nine assists.
The challenge for the Spartans on Saturday was exhaustion and distraction as much as it was the opposition. The Spartans played in a tournament at Altoona on Saturday. With the Homecoming football game the night before and the Homecoming dance that night, Praschak knew she wasn’t going to get the Spartans’ best. But she thought it was important that they get some competition in over the weekend, with the WIAA tournaments beginning next week.
The Spartans started the tournament well, beating Elk Mound. They won their first game against River Falls, but then their caliber of play began to slip. They lost to the Wildcats, Rice Lake and Altoona in the final rounds of the tournament.
Praschak said there were bright spots. She said the serving of Marson, Martell, Penman and Wells all stood out. She said Krig was a force at the net with her blocking.
The Spartans completed the regular season on Tuesday and the WIAA Division 2 playoffs begin next week. Brackets for the playoffs should be announced sometime this week. The Spartans are in an exceptionally strong bracket, with teams like Altoona, Bloomer, Barron, Baldwin-Woodville and Ellsworth, who were all conference champions or top contenders.