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Volleyball: Spartans need to be on the defensive

Sophomore Kristine Scherz (15) scores a successful block during Somerset's recent match with Colfax. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

In the Middle Border Conference losses suffered against Prescott and Ellsworth last week, the Somerset volleyball team found it needs to go on the defensive.

Somerset coach Sarah Praschak said she believes most of the pieces are in place for the Spartans to take off. She said the one aspect that held the team back in both matches last week was defensive errors. In each of the losses, the Spartans committed 20 defensive errors.

There was a very slim margin between winning and losing in last Tuesday's home match against Prescott. Prescott won the opening game 25-17, but Somerset came back with 25-20 and 25-19 wins.

"We came out of our shell," Praschak said of the consecutive wins.

But the Spartans couldn't get the needed third win. Prescott finished the match with 25-17 and 15-12 wins.

Praschak said her team is still struggling to find its rhythm and maintaining throughout an entire match.

"We did very well when we controlled our game," she said.

Anna Rybacki led the Spartans' play at the net, finishing the match with 10 kills and 10 blocks. Hannah Waskosky also contributed eight kills. The Spartans also returned serves well, with Waskosky, Kat Praschak, Brooke Beuthling and Georgia Hammer leading in that area. And the Spartans only missed putting three of their serve attempts in play.

The Spartans had solid dig numbers, led by Praschak with 10, Beuthling with seven and Hammer with five.

The defensive errors, according to Coach Praschak are from inexperience on defense. She said the Spartans need to be "reading the play, reading the hitter, anticipating where the ball's going to go."

The match at Ellsworth last Thursday all hinged on the results of the first game. This was a well-played opening set on both sides, but Ellsworth managed to earn a 25-23 win. Ellsworth controlled the action in the final two games, winning 25-13 and 25-14.

"If we'd have won that first game, it would have changed everything," Praschak said.

Ellsworth is known for a strong attack, led by the Kummer sisters. But they aren't strictly a power-hitting team.

"Their smartness at tipping and rolling, we couldn't read them," Praschak said of Ellsworth's attack.

Ellsworth also blocks extremely well, resulting in Rybacki leading Somerset with four kills and Beuthling with three kills. Somerset also put up an impressive blocking effort. Brit Buchanan led the team with seven blocks and Rybacki notched five blocks.

The Spartans were sharp on both ends of the serving spectrum. They only missed two of their serve attempts, while deftly handling Ellsworth's serves. Praschak had 18 successful serve returns, with Beuthling contributing 11 and Waskosky seven. Taylor Sporleder was the team's top server.

The schedule remains busy for the Spartans. They play at Amery Thursday in a Middle Border Conference match. The Spartans will compete in the New Richmond Invitational on Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. The Spartans play another MBC match next Tuesday at Baldwin-Woodville.

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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