Volleyball: Florence beats Elcho for Northern Lakes Conference championship

Florence's Sidnie Steber returns a serve while Bailey Apfel (22) looks on during Thursday's Northern Lakes Conference match with Elcho. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

FLORENCE, Wis. — Florence, in an easier than expected match, swept Elcho 3-0 to clinch the Northern Lakes Conference regular season volleyball championship Thursday.

The unbeaten Bobcats (17-4-7, 12-0), who needed five sets in mid-September to beat the second-place Hornets, rolled to the title with 25-9, 25-20, 25-14 scores.

“It was (difficult) the last time we played them,” said Florence coach Joan Canfield, who was greeted by her mentor, former Bobcats coach Trudy Rochon, after winning the title. “We were definitely scrappy. We dug a couple out of the net and almost went to the bleachers for another.”

Florence’s front row attack, led by 27 slick assists from Karmen Anderson, proved devastating. Shayla McLain tallied 11 kills; Bailey Apfel had six kills and five blocks; Alicia Gehlhoff added seven kills; and Sid Steber had three.

“We just don’t have one main hitter,” Canfield said.

Florence served up 10 aces. with a team-high four from Cassie Larson. Anderson and Jenna Springer each had two.

However, suspect serving helped Elcho stick around in the second set.

“That second game we missed our serves,” said Canfield, figuring at least six going astray. “It really changed the momentum of the game.”

Elcho held a 17-15 lead until McLaim took over the net with three kills and a block for a 23-19 turnaround. Kills from McLain and Gehlhoff ended the set.

“We were able to fight back when they had the lead on us,” Canfield said. “It was good to see us mentally tough enough to come back.”

In the third set, Florence jumped out to a 5-0 lead and coasted from there. The match ended with two kills from McLain and one from Taylor Schuls.

Florence wraps up the NLC schedule next week, traveling to White Lake (5:30 start, varsity only) on Tuesday and Goodman-Pembine on Thursday. The Bobcats will play in Minoacqua, Wis., on Saturday before WIAA play begins Oct. 17.