Somerset volleyball can't take down regional's top seedThe Altoona Rails were ranked number one for a reason in the Division 2 regional tournament bracket and the Somerset volleyball team found out why last Thursday.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The Altoona Rails were ranked number one for a reason in the Division 2 regional tournament bracket and the Somerset volleyball team found out why last Thursday.
The Spartans went to Altoona, seeded fourth in the Division 2 bracket despite winning a share of the Middle Border Conference championship. The Spartans took the first game in the regional semifinal, 29-27. From there it was Altoona which stood out, winning 26-24, 25-15 and 25-20 to advance to Saturday’s regional final. Altoona also won that match, advancing to the sectional semifinal this Thursday against Rice Lake. The sectional championship match will be played in New Richmond this Saturday.
The first game in Thursday’s match was just what you’d expect from two highly polished teams. It was power volleyball with neither team getting any lengthy scoring runs started. The game stretched into overtime, where the Spartans finally scored a 29-27 win.
Through most of the second game the Spartans played well, but Altoona found a flaw in the Spartans game and the Rails exploited it. The Spartans struggled at covering balls that were tipped over the reach of their blockers. Altoona used tips to earn pivotal points in the final three games.
Somerset coach Sarah Praschak said the team did many things well in the match, they were just beaten by a top quality opponent. The Spartans had balanced hitting, with Bridget Kieckhoefer, Ellie Vanasse and Sarah Krig each scoring with eight kills. Krig and Vanasse were also in double digits for blocks. The team had well-balanced serving, with each of its servers getting 12-15 serves in play.
Praschak said the conference championship and other memorable parts of the season would not have happened without the leadership of this year’s seniors.
“They were high-spirited, passionate about volleyball. The success this season started with the passion of the senior leaders,” Praschak said.
MBC leader showdown
The two co-champions of the Middle Border Conference, Somerset and Baldwin-Woodville, clashed last Tuesday in the opening round of the WIAA Division 2 regionals. In this rematch, Somerset was able to prevail in four games.
Baldwin-Woodville won the opening game 25-21. Early in the second game the Spartans began to take command of action at the net. Led by junior Sarah Krig and senior Bridget Kieckhoefer, the Spartans used their blocking and well-placed hits to win the final three games 25-18, 25-18 and 25-16.
Praschak said the sluggish first game was the result of nerves for the Spartans, knowing this would be the final match in front of their home crowd.
“They got the fire in their eyes after that,” she said. “We started playing our kind of game.”
Krig emerged as a difference maker in this match. She led the Spartans with 14 kills and 15 blocks, including 10 solo blocks.
“She changed the momentum for the whole team,” Praschak said.
While Krig was providing the power, Kieckhoefer was providing the precision. She placed her hits with deft razor sharp accuracy, preventing B-W’s blocking from becoming a factor. She scored with nine kills and she also had several critical digs.
“Bridget showed some great leadership,” Praschak said.
Blocking was huge for the Spartans in this match. Vanasse and Natalie Broome were also in double-digits for blocks.
Sami Martell sparked the team with deadly serving in this match. She had 18 serves without a miss.