By Jared Schmeltzer
Merrill volleyball’s stellar 2017 season came to a close on Friday as the Bluejays fell 3-1 to Luxemberg-Casco. The Bluejays came out of the gates hot taking the first set but couldn’t hold their lead as the state championship runner up, Luxemberg-Casco took the win.
The first set went to Merrill as they set the pace throughout and took advantage of many Luxemberg serving errors to win 25-17. Luxemberg was able to flip the script in the second set, going on to win in dominant fashion by a score of 25-10. The third set was led by Luxemberg throughout, however Merrill was able to put up a fight as they fell 25-23. It was more of the same from Luxemberg in the fourth set taking it by a score of 25-20. Merrill showed a lot of heart in the final set as they were down 15-24 until they fought their way back to 20-24 before giving up the final point.
The Bluejays attack was led by Morgan Wardall who had a team high 13 kills to go along with her four aces and three blocks in the game. Megan Schroder followed not far behind with nine kills of her own along with one block. Merrill had two servers at 100% for the game including Madi Weix (12 attempts) and Lindsey Casper (17 attempts). Both Weix and Casper also did a good job setting up teammates as Weix finished with 12 assists and Casper with 21. Merrill’s back row was solid as Maddix Bonnell (22 digs) and Kelsie Belfiori (18 digs) combined for 40 of the teams 71 digs in the game.
“We wanted our season to end at the State Tournament and that’s exactly what happened.” said head coach Kris Krug. “Just one game short of the Championship. I’m so proud of this team and their accomplishments. Back to back years with a State appearance is what most teams dream about! It was a great season with a group of exceptional ladies that represented our community with pride!”
The Bluejays finish the season with a record of 32-8. Merrill made their second straight state appearance and ninth overall, however Merrill hasn’t won a game in state since 2012 where they went to the D1 semifinals.