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Tigers limit mistakes, powerful hitting to beat Prescott

The first Middle Border Conference win of the 2004 season was accomplished by the New Richmond volleyball team last Thursday as the team celebrated Senior Night.

The Tigers overwhelmed Prescott for the win Thursday, taking all three games played in the match. The win came by scores of 25-20, 25-22 and 25-9.

The win was accomplished with two predominant features: a nearly mistake-free by the entire team and a huge night at the net from senior Bekah Sievert.

The Tigers only missed one serve in the match. Their hitting was just as flawless. The Tigers didn't try to play beyond their abilities. They made the most of their good opportunities and made numerous saves, forcing Prescott into mistakes with their patience and smart ball placement.

"The blocking made a huge impact," said Tiger coach Becky Ahlbrecht, who earned her first career conference win. "Bekah definitely did intimidate them with her force."

Sievert had six blocks, which caused Prescott's hitters to shy away from the net. There was nothing shy about Sievert's hitting, she put down 19 kills in 31 hitting attempts.

The other Tiger hitters also provided smart hitting when they got their opportunities. Kelsie Abramson, Emily Frank and Krista Mitchell all gave solid hitting when the sets went to the outside. The entire team had just a handful of hitting errors in the match.

The serving numbers in this match were incredible. Jena O'Flanagan was on target with all 18 of her attempts, Mitchell went 15-15, Sievert 14-14 and Kiris Brockmiller went 12-12.

The defensive effort from the Tigers was just as strong. Mitchell led the team with 24 digs and five others had between 6-9 digs.

Abramson has stepped up in an important role, playing on the right side of Sievert in the front row, where teams often try to tip to avoid Sievert's blocking.

"Kelsie's done a dynamite job on the right side," Ahlbrecht said. "She's probably got the best technique on getting down for digs, her and Krista."

Five-game loss at Ellsworth

The Tigers nearly got their first conference win two nights earlier, losing at Ellsworth 25-20, 18-25, 13-25, 25-20, 25-12.

Sievert led the Tigers with 16 kills and Katie Parker added eight kills. Abramson's 19 digs led the team, followed by 13 from Mitchell, 11 from Paige Vergin and 10 from O'Flanagan.

The Tigers were hot or cold serving. Mitchell was on target with all 24 of her serves and O'Flanagan had four aces. But missed serves at critical times also hurt the Tigers' chances.

Fifth at Amery

The Tigers won three of their five matches in Saturday's tournament at Amery. By playing Spring Valley twice during the tournament, the Tigers might had an accurate measurement on how much they've improved during this season.

The Tigers were beaten by Spring Valley in the River Falls Invitational early in the season. In Saturday's action, the Tigers faced Spring Valley twice and they soundly beat the Cardinals each time.

In the opening round of the tournament the Tigers beat Spring Valley 25-16, 25-13. In the final round of the tournament the two teams met again, in the fifth place match, where the Tigers scored a 25-17, 25-15 win.

In all three of the wins during the tournament the Tigers played quite well. An injury threw off their rhythm in the two losses.

In the second round of the tournament the Tigers started with a 25-23 win against Chetek. That's when middle hitter Katie Parker suffered a jaw injury when she dove trying to dig up a ball before it hit the floor. She needed to be taken to the emergency room for the treatment of her injury.

The Tigers are a team that has been honing a strong chemistry, and taking Parker out of the lineup was a big adjustment. The Tigers had been leading in the second game against Chetek, but the Bulldogs came back to win the final two games 25-14, 17-15.

In the third round the Tigers faced Shell Lake, the team that won the tournament. The Lakers beat the Tigers 25-20, 25-16.

Tiger coach Becky Ahlbrecht had moved Kelsie Abramson into Parker's middle hitter role. In the fourth round, against Prairie Farm, the Tigers were able to redevelop a chemistry, winning 25-13, 25-7.

That led to the second match against Spring Valley. Abramson showed that she can handle playing in the middle, being involved in seven blocks against the Cards.

The Tigers had solid serving all day. Kiris Brockmiller had three aces in the final match and was on target with all 15 of her serves. Jena O'Flanagan had six aces against Prairie Farm and another six against Chetek.

The best hitting game for the Tigers was probably the first meeting with Spring Valley. Bekah Sievert led the Tigers with eight kills in that match.

Next week

The Tigers conclude their regular season with two home matches next week. On Tuesday the Tigers are visited by Osceola. This match will be the Tigers' Parents Night match. Two nights later, on Thursday, Oct. 14, the Tigers will host Unity in a non-conference match.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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