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Somerset volleyball team enters playoffs in right frame of mind

Somerset's Avery Gunther (center) and Tori Martell (right) go up for a block attempt during a recent Spartan match.

Two wins, plus the perception that they got dissed in the WIAA seeding meeting has the Somerset volleyball team in the right frame of mind as the Spartans enter this week’s playoffs.

The Spartans looked sharp in winning their final two regular season matches last week against St. Croix Central and Boyceville.

The Spartans were scheduled to begin the WIAA Division 2 tournament season on Tuesday at Prescott. The winner of that match will play again this Thursday against the winner of Tuesday’s match between Bloomer and Baldwin-Woodville. The winner of Thursday’s match will advance to the WIAA regional final match on Saturday.

If there’s a little hostility in the Spartans’ gait this week, it’s understandable. The Spartans received the sixth seed in the Division 2 regional bracket. Somerset, St. Croix Central and Ellsworth all tied with 4-3 records in the Middle Border Conference and Somerset earned wins against Central and Ellsworth in head-to-head play.

Somerset coach Sarah Praschak has said she thinks her team has the talent to reach the regional final and this should give the Spartans even more motivation.

The win against St. Croix Central came last Tuesday. Somerset won the match 25-22, 12-25, 25-22 and 27-25. While several Spartans had big nights, Praschak said senior Kaitlynn Struemke led the charge to victory.

“She had by far the best night she’s ever had hitting,” Praschak said, after Struemke led the Spartans with 10 kills and five successful blocks.

Somerset’s Haley Bassett was able to play in a limited role Tuesday, a week after spraining her ankle. While she’s most recognized for her hitting, her play in the back row is invaluable for the Spartans. That’s where she was used against Central.

“She’s so quick with her feet,” Praschak said of Bassett, saying her quickness and long reach help take away the deep corners as hitting targets for opponents.

With Bassett unable to play in the front row, the Spartans have balanced their attack. Struemke led with 10 kills, but Tori Martell scored with nine, Abbie Rivard eight and Brooke Beuthling seven. The blocking numbers also showed good balance.

The Spartans finished the season with a 25-22, 25-13, 25-20 win at Boyceville. This was a non-conference match and it was one of few low-pressure situations the Spartans have faced this season.

Martell stepped up to lead the hitting with 12 kills.

The hitting again was balanced. Hannah Waskosky had eight kills, Struemke seven and Beuthling five. Praschak said Allie Trautmiller played one of her best matches of the season, leading the team’s defensive effort.

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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