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Somerset volleyball team pushing the learning curve

Somerset senior Alyssa Willett (6) delivers a serve during the Spartans' win at St. Croix Central.

They may be learning on the job, but the Somerset volleyball players are also beginning to see success.

The Spartans won a dual match at St. Croix Central on Thursday. They followed that by winning one of four matches in the Hudson Invitiatonal on Saturday.

The dual meet at Central was a taut battle. The Spartans won all three games but all three went right down to the wire, with the Spartans winning 25-21, 25-21, 25-23.

Somerset coach Sarah Praschak said both teams were flustered a bit in Thursday's match because of the loud, spirited crowds that were cheering for each team.

"They were surprised that many kids were there," Praschak said. "The first game was pure jitters for both teams."

The Spartans settled in to play solidly in all aspects of the game. Serving was one of the Spartans' best features. It was led by Kendrah Wink, who was on target with 14 of her 15 attempts. Tori Martell produced five service aces.

Senior defensive specialist was the team's top passer with 12 successful serve returns.

Freshman Abby Rivard led the Spartans with eight kills. Martell and Wink each scored with six kills. Wink also led the team with six solo blocks. Rachel Plourde was involved in five blocks.

In Saturday's tournament in Hudson, the Spartans lost to Menomonie, Superior and Baldwin-Woodville before finishing with a win over Bloomer. The Spartans weren't at their sharpest against Menomonie and Superior simply had too much height and talent for the Spartans to compete with.

Facing Baldwin-Woodville was a good preview of their upcoming Middle Border Conference match. The Spartans won the opening game 26-24, before the Blackhawks took the final two games 27-25 and 15-12. The Spartans finished the day by topping Bloomer 25-16, 25-21.

Wink, Martell, Starry and Baily Paulus led the team's serving attack in the tournament. Rachel Helgeson made herself a big factor in the attack, leading the team with seven solo blocks. She also contributed seven kills. Plourde led the team with 10 kills and Miranda O'Rourke also had seven kills.

Praschak said the girls have been working hard to grasp everything the coaches have been teaching them.

"I didn't think we'd be this far along with the young team we've got. It's going in the right direction but we still have a long way to go," Praschak said.

The Spartans begin Middle Border Conference action this Thursday with a match at Ellsworth. The Spartans play at home next Tuesday, facing New Richmond.

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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