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New Richmond volleyball hopes to maintain peak play

Sophomore Abigail Blasczyk (15) has shown she has a bright future in the New Richmond volleyball program. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

When the New Richmond volleyball team is at the top of its game, the Tigers can be competitive with the best teams in the area.

The challenge for the Tigers now is finding a way to play at that level through more of their court time.

The Tigers have been in a wildly busy stretch of their schedule and that continues this week. They played in quad meets at Durand and Elk Mound last week before competing at the Grantsburg Invitational on Saturday. This week begins with the Tigers playing at Menomonie on Tuesday. The Tigers will start their Middle Border Conference schedule on Thursday in a home match against Osceola. The Tigers then play in another tournament on Saturday, this time at Farmington, Minn.

Last week began at Durand, where the Tigers won two of three matches. They needed three games to top Prescott, then put away Durand in two games. The Tigers won the first game against Ellsworth, but the Panthers came back to take the final two games.

Ellsworth is considered one of the favorites in the MBC title race this season. Tiger coach Al Getschel said he thinks the Tigers will be prepared to battle Ellsworth when they meet again later in the season.

"I think we have more room to grow and get better," Getschel said.

Between Tuesday's and Thursday's quads, a wave of colds swept through the Tigers. It showed in their opening match at Elk Mound on Thursday, where the Tigers weren't able to muster much of a fight in a loss to Ellsworth. The Tigers then recorded a 25-6, 25-7 win against Elmwood. The Tigers' best effort of the night was in the final match against Elk Mound, with the Tigers winning in two close games.

Lauren Smith led the Tigers in hitting in their matches last week. Getschel said he was encouraged shown by middle hitters Audrey Feuerer and Leah DeYoung. He said their progress is making it more difficult for opponents to focus their blocking against Smith.

Grantsburg won its home tournament on Saturday and the Tigers were the Pirates' first victim. The Tigers put up a good fight, but lost 25-16, 25-18. New Richmond then had an easy win against Frederic. In the third round, the Tigers ran into a dynamic defensive team from Mercer and were defeated. That put the Tigers into the bronze final game, where they defeated Turtle Lake in two well-contested games.

Getschel is hopeful that the Tigers can play at their top level this Thursday when they host Osceola. Osceola won its home tournament on Saturday.

"When we're playing well, we can compete with anybody in the conference," Getschel said.

The Tigers added to their success on Tuesday, winning a match at Menomonie in four sets. The set scores were 25-13, 23-25, 25-11, 25-19.

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 more than 30 years.

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