The Bluejay volleyball team took two trips to Wisconsin Rapids last week, and felt pretty good about the results until its final match on Saturday.
Merrill cruised to a 3-0 win over Rapids on Friday, then dug deep to pull out a 5-game match with SPASH (21-25, 25-21, 15-25, 25-12, 15-5) in the first leg of the WVC Meet on Saturday. But an untimely injury hindered the Jays in their finale, and they fell in four games to Wausau East (25-7, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20).
“In a couple of the games (with SPASH), we came back from a big deficit to either win or to at least keep it respectable,” Merrill coach Steph Nelson said. “SPASH is a good team and they played well, so for us to go out there and end up winning the match is great.
“The next match wasn’t so great; during our lunch break we ended up losing Jess Sabey to a nagging foot injury in which she could hardly walk. Rachel Mueller and Emily Jones did a great job replacing her, but it’s so hard to get someone to make up for the 10-20 kills a match that she usually gives us.
“We really just seemed like we were completely off for the first two games. The third and fourth games the girls played much better. They were scrappy on defense, they were hitting well, but when you lose the first two games of the match, it’s so hard to come back and win the whole thing.”
Merrill counted on: Lindsay Krueger (8 k, 18 as, 35 d); Renee Sladek (10 k, 6 d, 6 bl); Sabey (13 k, 7 d); Brittany Grosskurth (15 as, 9 ac, 13 d); Bri Piepenbrok (7 k, 10 d, 2 bl); Kaylin Byer (32 d); Andi English (7 as, 5 d, 4 bl); Sam Hojan (9 k, 6 bl); Jenna Zamzow (9 d); Jones (3 d); Mueller (3 d).
Merrill jumped on the Raiders with 25-12 and 25-11 games, then held off a run with a 25-23 closer.
“We really didn’t play our best, but we were trying out new plays and trying to get some confidence going in them,” Nelson said. “We had some great ideas and great attempts, but we were a little on the sloppy side tonight.”
Providing firepower were: Sabey (14 k, 7 d); Krueger (15 a, 8 d); Sladek (10 k); Piepenbrok (5 k, 5 d); Grosskurth (14 as, 3 d); Byer (12 d); Hojan (4 k); Zamzow (3 d).