Volleyball: Florence rallies to beat Three Lakes

Florence's Bailey Apfel goes up for a spike against Three Lakes in Tuesday's Northern Lakes Conference match. (Burt Angeli/The Daily News)

FLORENCE, Wis. — Florence nearly didn’t have to worry about playing for the Northern Lakes Conference volleyball championship Thursday.

Upstart Three Lakes held a 2-1 lead Tuesday before the Bobcats rallied for a 3-2 (26-24, 16-25, 18-25, 25-17, 15-11) win.

Florence (23-3-1, 12-1) will travel to unbeaten Laona-Wabeno on Thursday. The second-place Bobcats can clinch a share of the title with a win.

“I can’t say I’m real happy with the play but I’m happy we won,” said Florence head coach Joan Canfield after the Senior Night match. “I think we just lost focus. People we’re not quite in the right place and stuff like that because I changed up some of the positions.”

In the deciding fifth set, senior Bailey Apfel had four of her 15 kills and two of her 10 blocks. The middle hitter also fired two aces and finished with five.

Sidnie Steber added two kills, including one two-hander to the opposite of the court, to help hold off the Bluejays. Karmen Anderson posted a fifth-set kill for a 10-7 advantage. Kendralee Milan followed with an ace.

The match, of course, ended with an Apfel kill.

“We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win, and that makes a big difference,” Canfield said. “Once we started playing offense more and becoming more aggressive, we started to come back.”

In the opening set, Three Lakes owned a 24-23 lead after scoring six straight points. Florence eked out the win after kills from Jenna Springer, Milan and Apfel.

The Bluejays, led by sophomore standout Mollee Gruszynski at the net, took the next two sets.

“They have some height,” Canfield said of the Bluejays.

A Florence bright spot was versatile senior Savannah Vassar, who had three quick kills to bring her team within 15-12 in the third set.

“Savannah really came alive in that game,” Canfield said. “She’s such a valuable player. I can put her at any position where I need her. She’s one of those players that’s kind of an ace up your sleeve that you know you can go to when you need someone. She’s a perfect player for that position.”

In the fourth, junior Jordyn Springer found the open middle for four kills and a set-ending ace. Florence defeated Three Lakes 3-1 in a mid-September meeting.

“Last time we played the middle of the court was open,” Canfield said. “Jordyn did a nice job of dropping a few of her hits in that middle part of the court again.”

Jenna Springer added seven kills in the match, followed by Jordyn Springer and Vassar with five each; and Steber with four.

Jenna Springer served at 100 percent. Karmen Anderson had 38 assists. Cassie Larson tallied 17 digs.