Lincoln County spikers light up D.C.E. tourney
The Bluejay girls were getting tired of settling for second place, so they did something about it.
They reversed a short trend of their two prior tournaments by working their way to the top of Saturday’s D.C. Everest Invite by sweeping through six matches. Their dominance was so pronounced that Tomahawk was the only opponent to score more than 20 points, and did it once apiece in two meetings.
The Hatchets ended up third in the eight-team meet.
“My first year we got third, last year we got second, and after two second place finishes this year we finally pulled through in the championship game and won what was rightfully ours!” MHS coach Steph Nelson said. “Today wasn’t our best playing ever, but we definitely saw the strength that we are capable of. We were on a little bit of a roller coaster ride, did a lot of great things then we’d have a couple sloppy plays. It was up and down pretty much all day.
“Bri Piepenbrok was extremely consistent with her passes all day long and came up with some really great digs. Reegan Byer got some great assists in to the plethora of front-row girls who were at times hitting some great spots. Renee Sladek was as consistent and deadly as she normally is, but the other girls did a great job helping her out in the kill category.
“Once again, though, we are a long way from where we would like to be. There is always room for improvement and hopefully with the week that we have off before we play again we can really get our blocking figured out and overall just work on fine tuning our total team defense and making smarter decisions offensively.”
Merrill got rolling with wins over Eau Claire Memorial (25-8, 25-13) and Menomonie (25-13, 25-12) before closing pool play with a 25-10, 25-23 set with Tomahawk.
The Jays took a 25-13, 25-14 cross over match with Everest, then knocked off Tomahawk again 25-23, 25-11. The Bluejays closed it out with a 25-19, 25-13 match with Wausau East.
The Hatchets also fell 25-19, 25-18 to Menomonie in pool play, while defeating Memorial 25-22, 25-22. After putting away Kimberly 25-23, 25-20, THS lost to Merrill again.
“I think the day was sort of a roller coaster day,” THS coach Jen Pfannerstill said. “We started off slow against Menominee and didn’t do a very good job with ball control. Against Eau Claire Memorial we were able to find that ball control and then could run our offense. During that match I thought we were in control and really kept E.C. Memorial on their heels.
“We simply made too many errors against Merrill. There were times when we were aggressive at the net and really kept them guessing. We did a good job at times of blocking their hitters and forcing them into uncomfortable situations. Unfortunately, we made too many mistakes on serve receive and serving to be able to pull it out at the end. The story was the same against Merrill the second time. The runs of points that we put together were longer, but just not long enough.
“I thought there were moments that we looked very solid both offensively and defensively against very strong teams and then at times let teams put too many points together on us. It’s a sign of a young team, but the reality is that we need them to start to stay focused for longer and play at a higher level. Expectations are high and they know it’s time to step up.”
Merrill’s Renee Sladek and Tomahawk’s Anna Nyberg were both selected to the All-Tournament team.
Leading the MHS girls were: Sladek (48 k, 27 d); Lindsay Krueger (11 k, 6 ac, 75 as. 18 d); Piepenbrok (4 ac, 50 d); Lauren Hojan (11 k, 6 as); Katie Zuelsdorf (11 k, 5 d); Jenna Zamzow (4 ac, 8 d); Casey Steffen (12 k); Reegan Byer (3 ac).
Pacing the THS girls were: Nyberg (41 k, 6 ac, 2 bl, 40 d); Becca Doughty (6 k, 84 as.); Hanna Meyer (20 k, 3 bl, 27 d); Alex DuPlayee (15 k, 32 d); Madeline Garrison (27 d); Amanda Schneider (10 ac, 15 d); Hannah Doughty (6 k, 3 bl); Hannah Feest (3 d).
Merrill battled before prevailing 26-28, 25-15, 25-16, 26-24.
“We are an excellent team, and that showed tonight in the fact that we did not play to our potential and yet we still pulled off a win,” Nelson said. “SPASH is always a good program with the ability to block well, hit hard and they move and pass well on defense. The first game we lost 28-26, but at one point we had come from behind to get it close.
“We didn’t pass that great, we cheated a little on defense, we didn’t get our blocks closed, and then offensively we weren’t very aggressive. The second and third games we played a lot better, or at least we started being a lot more aggressive and we improved our passing.
“The last game we were back and forth for a while, but then we came back to get a good lead. We had some troubles siding out and next thing we know we’re tied. When we give up a lot of points like that, it’s almost always because we’re lacking good communications and we aren’t being aggressive enough offensively, which was exactly the case in the last game. Luckily, the girls were able to finish and pull off our first conference victory”
Contributions came from: Sladek (16 k, 17 bl, 7 d); Krueger (3 k, 27 as, 3 bl, 6 d); Hojan (9 k, 12 bl, 5 as); Piepenbrok (18 d); Zuelsdorf (7 k, 5 bl, 4 d); Zamzow (15 d); Aubrey Wardall (6 k, 3 bl); Steffen (3 k, 2 bl); Byer (5 d).
The Tomahawk girls were taken to the limit in Thursday’s home dual, out-lasting the Raiders 20-25, 25-11, 25-21, 24-26, 15-12.
“Well, the first game was a prime case of freshman jitters,” Pfannerstill said. “In game two, I we took care of the ball really well, distributed the ball to our hitters and passed so much better. When Medford did attack, we were in our defensive spots and we were able to stay in system.
“Games three and four were tight; we had moments and spurts where we played very well and moments we didn’t But those games are learning opportunities for these young players but this was one of those teachable moments and they needed to have this experience. I would have rather this experience been taught later in the season, but now we know we can protect our home floor, win a tight match, and nearly come back and win a set after being down 12-3. The young players, once they refocused themselves, did a great job and the experienced players helped with composure and leadership down the stretch.”
Offerings came from (Nyberg (22 k, 8 ac, 3 bl, 23 d); B. Doughty (45 as, 10 d); DuPlayee (10 k, 19 d); Meyer (6 k, 6 ac, 12 d); A. Schneider (3 ac, 11 d); Emily Schneider (3 k, 3 bl); Feest (7 d); Garrison (5 d); H. Doughty (4 k).
The THS girls won last Tuesday’s D.C. Everest Quad by capturing six straight over Mosinee (25-20, 25-19), Everest (25-18, 25-21) and Clintonville (25-10, 25-13).
“I think we had a lot of nerves at the start of the night,” Pfannerstill said. “Our freshmen were nervous and our upperclassmen made uncharacteristic errors. Once we settled down we had more control and were able to execute on offense. We served so aggressively that teams were really on their heels and we could execute our free ball offense. At times we looked crisp and at times we looked rough, but that’s understandable seeing it’s August and we are young.”
Stats were turned in by: Nyberg (30 k, 4 bl, 6 ac 11 d); B. Doughty (9 ac, 58 as, 8 d); DuPlayee (14 k, 3 ac, 13 d); Meyer (11 k, 3 ac, 13 d); A. Schneider ( 11 ac, 9 d); E. Schneider (3 k, 5 ac, 2 bl, 4 d); Garrison (12 d); H. Doughty (4 k, 3 bl); Feest 3 d).
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