Volleyball: Tigers hope they've seen their future

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The long-range goal of the New Richmond volleyball team is to become a team that can compete for the Middle Border Conference championship and to sustain that level of play on a yearly basis.

The Tigers saw a team that they can use as a model for their long-range success when they played at St. Croix Central last Tuesday. It wasn't that long ago that Central was in the cellar of the MBC standings. Now the Panthers are one of the teams at the top of the standings.

New Richmond lost at Central by scores of 25-12, 25-15 and 25-10. And Tiger coach Al Getschel was not displeased with the team's performance.

"We defended extremely well. Our digging and passing numbers were really good," Getschel said.

Getschel said the Tigers hit the ball well, but the Central back row play was outstanding and dug up many of the Tigers' best hits. He said the Tigers were able to serve well, which kept Central from running its system on the first possession. But when the Tigers couldn't follow with a kill, Central often put the point away in its second possession.

One of the Tigers who rose to the level of competition was senior Avery Patraw. She was one of the team's most reliable passers, often delivering a good serve return when the team was shaky in that area.

"I love that kid. She's been working so hard. She always asks the right questions," Getschel said.

Getschel said the Tigers' other senior, Sami Paulson, has been like Patraw, in that both have improved beyond what he thought they'd produce this season.

On Thursday the Tigers played at home against Prescott, dropping their second MBC match of the week. Getschel was not so flattering in this one. The Tigers had flashes of good play Thursday. They led early in the first two sets, and still held a 19-14 lead in the opening set before things went sideways in a hurry.

The Tigers had a really rough night passing and it carried over into all of the other aspects of their play. Junior Lauren Smith was the only Tiger with more than one kill, finishing with seven.

At the end of both matches last week, the Tiger coaches worked in several younger players to get them a taste of play at the varsity level. With the team at such a young stage, competition within the program is just as important as how the Tigers are faring against opponents from other schools.

Volleyball fans can see plenty of the Tigers this week. New Richmond will host Ellsworth in an MBC dual meet on Thursday. The Tigers will be back at home on Saturday, hosting the New Richmond Invitational, which begins at 9 a.m. The Tigers get to play at home again next Tuesday when Amery's girls visit.