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Somerset volleyball spoils Prescott's championship plans

Somerset senior Markell Penman delivers a serve during the Spartans' recent "Dig Pink" match. The Spartans raised $223 for the American Cancer Society that evening.

Playing spoiler wasn't the role the Somerset volleyball team was looking for at the start of the season.

But when the Spartans were put in that position last Tuesday, they responded with a superb effort. The Spartans went to Prescott and spoiled Prescott's chances for an undefeated Middle Border Conference championship, defeating the Cardinals in four games 26-24, 25-21, 18-25, 25-19.

By defeating Prescott, the Spartans opened the door for Osceola and Baldwin-Woodville to have a chance to tie the Cardinals for the conference championship.

The Spartans had hoped to be one of the MBC title contenders. They won their first three conference matches, before going into a three-match losing swoon. Spartan coach Sarah Praschak said she hoped the team has shown it has fully bounced back with this victory.

A little-used defensive tactic worked like a dream for the Spartans against Prescott. Most teams use single- or double-blocks in volleyball. In this match the Spartans went to triple-blocks to shut down Prescott's attack.

"We totally shut them down," Praschak said. "They were totally shaken by our blocks."

By putting three blockers at the net, the Spartans took the gamble of leaving big areas of the court uncovered.  The three Spartans who weren't at the net were given specific areas of the court to concentrate upon and they were able to dig up a majority of the hits that got past the blockers.

Somerset's blocking totally dominated the first two games. Senior blocker Sarah Krig injured her wrist during the third game and Prescott was able to capture that game. Krig returned for the fourth game and the Spartans scored their third win.

Krig had a huge night, leading the Spartans with 14 solo blocks. Five other Spartans recorded solo blocks as the team totaled 30 solo blocks, along with 15 block assists, in the match.

Krig and Sarah Northey led a big hitting attack. Northey finished with 13 kills and Krig with 10.

The effective play also showed in the Spartans' serving, with four missed served in the four games.

The Spartans had an excellent night of receiving serves, other than one stretch in the fourth game. The Spartans led 14-4 and 18-6 in that game before Prescott reeled off 10 straight points. Praschak said these stretches of serve-receive struggles are something the team needs to remedy before the WIAA playoffs begin.

The WIAA playoffs began Tuesday when the Spartans hosted Ellsworth. The winner of that match will play again on Thursday at Altoona, which is the top seed in the Division 2 tournament bracket. Somerset is the fourth seed in the bracket.

Praschak said the win over Prescott was the ideal stepping stone leading into tournament play.

"Now they know anything is possible," Praschak said.