By Jared Schmeltzer
In Saturday’s D.C. Everest Volleyball Invite the Merrill girls took second place with both of their losses courtesy of Newman Catholic.
Merrill started the day playing Newman and losing in three sets. Merrill was able to take the first set 25-19, but then lost the second set 26-24 and came up short in the third set 15-8. The Bluejays bounced back with a win over Everest in three sets. Merrill dropped the first set 25-21, however they would then win the second set 25-20 and the third set 17-15. Merrill’s success continued as they beat Wausau East in two sets by scores of 25-14 and 25-16. They were then able to take down Eau Claire Memorial in two sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-18.
Merrill’s winning streak came to a stop as they faced Newman, again losing in three sets. The girls struggled in the first set losing 25-15 but were able to come back and get a 25-23 win in the second set. The third set was close but Newman took it by a score of 15-13.
“We have the tools to be a better team, we just haven’t found a way to get over the hump against a team like Newman Catholic,” comments head coach Kris Krug. “After playing well against DCE, we were welcoming the chance to redeem our loss earlier in the day. Our lack of communication on the court cost us some easy points today. We have to be able to clean that up to beat higher caliber teams.”
Merrill continues with its hot serving, with a team percentage of 92 for the invite. Leading the charge was Lindsey Casper with 100% serving and six aces. She was accompanied by Morgan Wardall who had 10 aces on 87% serving, 51 kills, and 14 blocks. Kelsie Blefiori had a nice day with five aces on 89% serving, eight kills and 66 digs. Maddix Bonnell helped the cause with five aces on 87% serving, 13 kills, and 55 digs.
Two of three in Mosinee
At last Tuesday’s volleyball quad tournament in Mosinee, Merrill won two of their three games – losing to Mosinee in the finals.
Merrill got off to a good start winning against Markesan in two sets by scores of 25-14 and 25-21. The success continued as Merrill went on to beat Tomahawk in two sets by scores of 25-14 and 25-22.
In the final game against Mosinee the girls got off to a hot start going up by seven points early but they would eventually lose the set 25-20. The second set was also controlled by Mosinee as they got the 25-19 win to end the game.
Morgan Wardall was the leading hitter for Merrill with 21 kills and only three errors. Megan Schroder also had a solid day getting 18 kills and 10 errors. Maddix Bonnell was the leading server for Merrill with six aces error free. Bonnell also led the girls in defense racking up 30 digs.
“We really played flat tonight – feeling like we never really got into any rhythm,” coach Krug noted. “We were waiting for our opponents to make mistakes rather than being the aggressor. Our match against Mosinee started off with us going up 7-0. Unfortunately, after that, Mosinee had everything fall their way. They simply wanted to win more than we did. They played well, we did not. Mosinee ended up taking the Quad. Now we need to learn from this and move on to our first Conference match on Thursday against Wausau West.”
Merrill bests West
In Thursday’s conference match up against Wausau West, the Merrill girls won in four sets. The Bluejays took the first two sets but came up short in the third set, eventually winning the match in the fourth.
“We started off the night with a 10-0 lead due to Lindsey Casper’s serving,” coach Krug said. “We handled West in the first two sets, but they weren’t about to give up. We had numerous passing errors in set three and never were able to regain the four points we gave up due to that poor passing.”
The girls took each of the first two sets in dominant fashion winning 25-15 in both. Merrill came up short in the third set losing 25-19, but came back for the win in the fourth set with a 29-27 win. Coach Krug went on to say, “I’m proud of them for playing so well in sets one and two – and not giving up in set four. Molly Weix came in to serve the last two points of the match. It was a high-pressure situation and she handled it with ease.”
The Merrill girls served well as a team, combining for 91% and nine aces, but leading the way was Lindsey Casper, serving 100% and getting four aces. Morgan Wardall had another nice game at the net with 21 kills and seven blocks.