NIAGARA, Wis. - Niagara and Florence got an early start Tuesday on playing in a state tournament atmosphere.
The Badgers, who lost a marathon first set and recovered from a big deficit in the third, outlasted the Bobcats 3-2 (34-36, 25-19, 26-24, 23-25, 16-14) in a classic volleyball match.
"Wow," replied Badgers coach Carol St. Arnauld when asked to assess the match. "Credit to my kids, they worked their tails off and earned the win tonight.
Florence’s Lauren Joerns (25) puts up a spike against Niagara’s Kaitlyn Lundin (20) and Melinda MacDonald (24) in Tuesday’s girls volleyball rivalry. Bobcats’ Sara Walstrom (15), Emma Baumgart (10) and Shannon Drexler (26) look on.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
"I'm extremely proud of them."
Florence held a 13-12 lead in the deciding fifth set when Badger sophomore Shelby Borchardt served up an ace and Maryellen Wagener notched her seventh block kill of the night. Sarah Walstrom delivered a spike for a 14-14 tie but two Bobcat miscues closed out the barn-burner.
"That was a match no one wanted to lose," Florence Coach Trudy Rochon said. "This is always a good volleyball match where people always get the price of admission."
Neither veteran coach could recall playing in a match with a 70-point set.
"We had a chance to win (that first set) and I wondered how we would respond," said St. Arnauld, starting three sophomores in a young lineup. "This group showed me a lot of maturity and character."
Niagara came back to win the second game and rallied from 10-0 in the third to go up 2-1 in the match.
"That's volleyball, it's a game of momentum," Rochon noted.
A Kaitlyn Lundin kill snapped a 24-24 deadlock and Florence hit the ball out to end the third set.
"If that doesn't show character and heart, nothing does," St. Arnauld said of the third-set comeback. "Coming back and winning from 10-0 was a huge advantage for us. But Trudy's group isn't going to fold. They pushed us to five."
Florence's Aly Young closed out the grueling first set with a spike and block kill for winners. The senior middle hitter tallied 21 kills and 18 assists on the night.
In the fourth set, Young posted a block kill to end the set.
Niagara was effective tipping but St. Arnauld thought her Badgers relied too much on that style in the fifth set.
"We started tipping the ball more and we didn't want to make a mistake," St. Arnauld said. "I wanted
us to go down swinging and we were playing not to lose."
Rochon wants to see improvement from her Bobcats defending the tip.
"They've got a great, scrappy team," Rochon said. "We had trouble covering the tip and we knew that's something we're going to have trouble with.
"We don't have anybody that tips so we can't defense that in practice. We need to work on that."
Both teams, for only a week into the season, will continue to emphasize passing.
"But it's still early in the season and you can't expect everything to be there," Rochon said. "It was a hard-fought battle and at the end of the night somebody had to win and it wasn't us."
Florence's Lauren Joerns contributed eight kills and 25 assists and Shannon Drexler had 10 kills.
Niagara's Wagener collected 32 kills and Lundin had 19. Abbey Bagnieschi produced 22 assists and Danielle Bennett had 15.
"There wasn't a lot of room out there," St. Arnauld said. "You had to put the ball down or they got a hand on it.
"Maryellen and Kaitlyn did a real good job tipping."
Niagara defeated Florence 25-17, 25-21 (16-25) in the junior varsity match.
The Badgers resume M&O Conference play on Thursday with a home match against Peshtigo. The Bobcats are off until a Sept. 8 trip to Auburndale.
By the way, the next possible Niagara-Florence match isn't until mid-October. Tournament time.
Niagara: Danielle Bennett - 1 kill, 1 dig, 15 assists; Maryellen Wagener - 25 kills, 7 blocks, 2 digs, 2 assists; Shelby Borchardt - 4 kills, 8 digs, 2 assists; Kaitlyn Lundin - 12 kills, 7 blocks; Abbey Bagnieschi - 4 kills, 1 dig, 22 assists; Shanna Nordell - 8 kills, 2 digs, 2 assists; Melinda MacDonald - 2 kills.
Norway rally comes
up short vs. Gwinn
NORWAY - Norway rallied from a two-set deficit but fell in five to Gwinn 20-25, 19-25, 25-11, 25-13, 15-11 Tuesday evening in Mid-Peninsula volleyball.
"Tonight's game was a big improvement from where we ended on Saturday," Knights coach Nicole Anderson said. "The girls practiced well yesterday and were responsive to changes that were made. We keep getting better and strong with each day that we are together."
Heather Evosevich led the Knights attack with 14 kills. She also had five aces and 10 digs.
"Heather Evosevich played a great all-round game tonight," Anderson said. "She was consistent in the front row and played tough through the back.
Jacey Ball had 11 digs in her first varsity match as a libero.
"Jacey Ball played phenomenally," Anderson said. "She reacts well to the ball and is getting touches that keep plays alive. Finally, both of our setters are playing well and adjusting nicely to the pace of the varsity game."
Bailey Grayvold added a team-best 14 digs.
Knights junior varsity squad won 25-22, 27-25 (10-15).
Knights host Westwood Thursday. Summary follows:
Jacey Bal - 11 digs, 1 assists; Lexi Negro - 2 aces, 1 block, 9 digs, 2 kills, 15 assists; Hannah Anderson - 7 digs, 1 kills, 1 assist; Leah Mattson - 3 aces, 1 block, 2 digs, 10 kills; Heather Evosevich - 5 aces, 10 digs, 14 kills, 1 assist; Melanie Kurth - 4 blocks, 3 digs, 4 kills; Bailey Grayvold - 7 aces, 3 blocks, 14 digs, 2 kills; Brandi Strong - 1 ace, 2 blocks, 1 dig, 10 assists.
CALUMET - Calumet took down West Iron County 3-0 (25-10, 25-10, 25-12) Tuesday to win in its home opener, not allowing the Wykons to score more than two consecutive points in any set. West Iron won the JV match, 2-1.