New Richmond volleyball anxious to start Middle Border Conference seasonIt all begins for real for the New Richmond volleyball team this Thursday.
It all begins for real for the New Richmond volleyball team this Thursday.
The Tigers begin their Middle Border Conference season Thursday with a match at Prescott. Until now, the Tigers’ matches have been used as rehearsals to see which girls will earn the most playing time once the conference season begins.
Among the rehearsals for the Tigers was a quad meet at Durand last Tuesday involving four MBC teams. The Tigers also played in a 16-team tournament at Coon Rapids, Minn., on Saturday.
In the quad at Durand the Tigers won one of their three matches. The Tigers opened the night with a 25-14, 25-23 win over Durand. The Tigers’ play slipped a bit in the final two matches and that was enough to turn promising outings into losses. The Tigers won the opening game against Ellsworth 29-27, but then dropped the next two games 25-22 and 25-12. The story was the same against Prescott. The Tigers kept it close, but unnecessary errors led to a 27-25, 25-22 loss to the Cardinals.
Tiger coach Bob Fisher said he was still “mixing and matching” in trying to find a cohesive group he’s ready to put on the court. The players keep making the decision more difficult by playing well in stretches, but not always maintaining a high level of play.
Mistakes are usually the make-or-break criteria in a volleyball coach’s decision making process on playing time. Mistakes in the quad, like missing seven serves in one game, led coaches to second guess their thinking on players.
Several players did help their cases at Durand. Caelin Giese led the team with 12 kills. Fisher said Giese and Emily Kukacka have been progressing well as the team’s middle hitters. Several Tigers improved their stock with strong serving. Rylee Rasmussen led the Tigers with six ace serves and Cassie Martie scored with five aces.
In Saturday’s tournament, the Tigers lost to Orono, Minn., in the opening round, 25-15, 25-21. The second game was tied 21-21 before Orono put on a strong push at the end of the game. This was the second straight year that the Tigers’ opening opponent in the tournament went to the finals of the 16-team event. This year, Orono came away as the champion. All of the Tigers’ opponents were Minnesota schools.
In the second round, the Tigers lost to DeLaSalle 25-12, 25-22. The Tigers scored a win in the third round, defeating St. Paul Harding 25-11, 25-21.
In the final match, the Tigers faced Farmington. Fisher said Farmington was a team extremely similar to the Tigers in experience level and in talent. The match played out that way too. Farmington won the opening game 25-20, but the Tigers took the second game 25-19. The third game was close the entire way, with Farmington winning 15-13.
“We played some of our best volleyball of the season,” Fisher said of the Farmington match.
With these matches completed, Fisher has logged a great deal of information about the team’s play. He will use this Tuesday’s match at Menomonie as the final piece in his decision making. He said a few of the decisions are already solidified. He counted Giese and Kukacka among them, as locks to play the middle hitter roles. He said the same about the setter positions, where sophomores Kate Johnson and Maddie Krumm have won the jobs. Another player with a position locked down is defensive specialist Sarena Shilts.
The positions still needing to be decided upon are the outside hitter roles. Fisher said he is looking for the girls who will have the best of two skills. He wants the girls who can be the best passers and will also be the smartest hitters to fill these roles.
After facing Prescott on Thursday, the Tigers will travel to another of their traditional tournament stops, playing in the Grantsburg Invitational.
The Tigers have next Tuesday circled on their calendars. After more than a month of the season passing by, the Tigers will play their first home match on Tuesday. To heighten the importance of the home opener, the Tigers will be facing Somerset in that match.