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Osceola outlasts New Richmond in five-game regional final match

The New Richmond volleyball players celebrate after winning the fourth game against Baldwin-Woodville on Thursday, sending the match to a deciding fifth game, which the Tigers won. 1 / 4
New Richmond senior Caelin Giese (12) drives the ball over the net after a quick set from Kate Johnston (7). 2 / 4
New Richmond's Maddie Krumm delivers a serve during the Tigers' regional tournament win over Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday.3 / 4
New Richmond senior Emily Kukacka (right) drives a hit past the block attempt by Osceola's McKenzie Burke during Saturday's regional final match.4 / 4

There was no shortage of drama in the WIAA tournament matches of the New Richmond volleyball team.

The Tigers trailed 2-1 after three games against Baldwin-Woodville on Thursday, before surging back to win the final two matches in the Division 2 regional tournament match.

That was just a warm-up for the drama in Saturday’s regional final at Osceola. The Tigers lost the first two games to the Chieftains and gave every indication they were swirling the drain. Somehow, the Tigers pulled out of the tailspin and charged back to win the third and fourth games.

This time however, the Tigers couldn’t find the magic in the fifth game. The score was tied 4-4 before Osceola reeled off five straight points. The Tigers couldn’t stop Osceola’s momentum, losing 15-8 in the deciding game.

Osceola moves onto the Division 2 sectional semifinals, hosting Rice Lake on Thursday.

The Tigers took advantage of a cold start by Osceola in the opening game on Saturday to build a 14-7 lead. Osceola came back with a vengeance to lead 24-21. The Tigers weren’t done, using kills from senior Ali Hammer to move in front 25-24. The Tigers couldn’t get the final point, with Osceola using two tip kills to win the opener 27-25.

The loss of the opening game deflated the Tigers, who fell behind 8-2 in the second game. Osceola senior McKenzie Burke tore apart the Tigers in the second game, with Osceola winning 25-15.

Osceola took a 4-0 lead on the reeling Tigers to start the third game. The Tigers then got a strong serving run from Leah Blader, which took the Tigers off life support. The Tigers grabbed a 5-4 lead and never trailed again, winning 25-18.

In the fourth game, the Tigers relied on their hitters as much as any time in their three playoff matches. Set after set went to middle hitter Caelin Giese and she responded with numerous kills. Hammer was also a big factor with several kills, including the final one to give the Tigers the 25-23 victory.

Osceola’s strong servers gave the Tigers problems all night and that was the case again in the fifth game. When the Tigers could get the ball to the hitters, they got kills from Giese, Hammer and Emily Kukacka. But the Tigers had trouble handling several Osceola serves in the fifth game, which threw off the timing of the Tiger attack.

The drama on Saturday came two nights after the Tigers completed a successful comeback against Baldwin-Woodville. This appeared like it might be a routine win for the Tigers after they mauled B-W 25-14 in the opening game. That changed quickly in the second game.

B-W senior Ashley Morrissey served the Blackhawks to a 6-0 lead in the second game. The Tigers came back to take a momentary 13-12 lead. Timing issues between the setters and hitters hampered the Tigers in the rest of the game, with B-W winning 25-19.

The connections between the setters and hitters carried through the third game, allowing B-W to win 25-17.

In the middle of the fourth game the Tigers regrouped. With several big hits from Kukacka and Giese, the Tigers pulled ahead quickly to win 25-17.

The lead changed hands several times in the fifth game. B-W lead 13-12, but a kill from Kukacka got the serve back in the Tigers’ hands. The Tigers scored the next two points to win 15-13.

The opening round of the Division 2 regional tournament was played last Tuesday. The Tigers, seeded second in the region, had little trouble with the seventh-seeded St. Croix Central squad. Central’s blockers were able to get their hands on a few Tiger hits, but New Richmond’s blockers completely closed off Central’s hitting alleys. The Tigers won the match 25-14, 25-10, 25-16.

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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