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Spartans win Osceola tourney; score dual win over Tigers

Somerset volleyball coach Sara Eichten hardly had any voice left after watching the Spartans play in Saturday's Osceola Invitational.

She wasn't hoarse from yelling. She was hoarse from cheering.

The Spartans won all five of their matches in the tournament, including delivering Osceola's first loss of the season, to take the championship in the tournament. Somerset's Mallory Rorabeck and Megan Plourde were named to the all-tournament team.

In four of the five matches the Spartans played, they lost one game. But each time, they were able to win the deciding third game.

The match started with Somerset facing Cumberland. After dropping the opening game 25-19, Somerset came back with a 25-18, 15-7 sweep of the final two games.

In the second round the Spartans faced St. Croix Falls. They were able to record a 15-25, 25-20, 15-10 win. The Spartans had trouble hitting in this match, but an outstanding defensive effort that resulted in 53 digs carried them to the victory.

Osceola was the opponent in the third round. Somerset won the opening game 25-18. Somerset trailed by seven in the second game before charging back to take a 22-21 lead. Osceola had the last charge, taking a 25-23 win. Osceola then jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the third game. Somerset was persistent and was finally able to finish off a 17-15 win against the defending Middle Border Conference champions.

Brianna Johnson was outstanding from the service line, with six of Somerset's 12 aces in the match. The Spartans also did some thunderous hitting, led by Plourde, Ali Marson and Kayla Solum.

In the fourth round Somerset faced Clayton and scored a 20-25, 25-22, 15-9 win.

The Spartans moved to the final round against Barron. Eichten let the Spartans know that a loss would cost them the tournament title. The Spartans made sure that didn't happen, winning both games by 25-21 scores. This was another match where hitting carried the Spartans, led by Marson's eight kills.

First MBC win

The Somerset-New Richmond volleyball match last Thursday was a good one.

Somerset was able to come out ahead by scores of 25-23, 25-15 and 25-21. The main edge Somerset had in this matchup was its balance in the hitting attack. New Richmond relied heavily on senior middle hitter Katie Parker. Somerset had more balanced production from its hitters, led by Megan Plourde, Ali Marson, Briana Johnson and Kayla Solum.

Plourde led the team with 13 kills. Solum had five kills and a .400 hitting percentage. Plourde showed another level to her ability in this match by scoring with several back-row hits.

Somerset's defensive play was as important as its hitting. The Spartans had 39 digs in this match. That resulted in New Richmond not being able to string together many points in a row, where Somerset's scoring tended to come in groups. Ciera Landry moved into the starting lineup for this match and boosted the team's defense, leading the Spartans with 10 digs.

Somerset's main problem in the match was serving, with 13 missed serves.

MBC quad

The successful week for the Spartans started last Tuesday, when they swept three matches against MBC opponents in a quad meet at Ellsworth.

The Spartans won two-game matches against New Richmond and Prescott. They lost the second game against Ellsworth and trailed 14-9 in the third game. The Spartans then got the serve and never gave it back, scoring the final seven points to win 16-14.

Serving was a big weapon for the Spartans all night. They hit successfully too, with Plourde getting 11 kills against Ellsworth and Marson getting 10 kills against Prescott.

Next up

The Spartans return to action on Thursday, with a match at Baldwin-Woodville. Somerset will be on the road next Monday, playing in a non-conference match at Glenwood City.

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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