Merrill spikers win in and out of conference
The Bluejay volleyball team played well enough last Thursday to add a Valley win over Wis. Rapids, then cruised to another three-set victory at Antigo on Monday.
“(It was) nothing too major, just won in three and tried to work on some stuff for Thursday’s match-up against Marshfield,” MHS coach Steph Nelson said. “They played better than they have been playing which is really nice, but we still have a ways to go.
“With Katie Zuelsdorff being out last night, we had to mix things up a bit and we were hoping that someone would step up and fill her role. We switched Lauren Hojan over to the outside and had Reegan Byer play where Lauren normally does. Both did well; Reegan had 6 kills and 3 assisted blocks so she stepped into her role well. While Lauren only had 2 kills, she made Antigo have to send a lot of free-balls over the net which is one thing that I don’t like about people seeing stats. Stats don’t tell what someone’s hits do to the other team, and she effectively made them be out of system.
“The person who stepped up the most was Aubrey Wardall. While she was playing her normal position, she was hitting the ball extremely well.”
The Tigers had held a one-game Valley lead over Merrill until they lost a five-set match to SPASH last Thursday. The teams are tied for first place in the WVC at 6-1, and both teams have 20-6 games records there.
The Bluejays were led by: Renee Sladek (15 kills, 4 blocks, 5 digs); Lindsay Krueger (28 assists, 10 d); Reegan Byer (6 k, 5 as, 12 d, 3 bl); Bri Piepenbrok (3 ac, 17 d); Jenna Zamzow (12 d); Aubrey Wardall (8 k); Casey Steffen (4 k); Lauren Hojan (4 d).
Merrill improved to 32-3 overall.
Surfing the Rapids
The Bluejay girls stumbled on their way to yet another solid win over Rapids with a pair of 25-16 games sandwiched around a 25-21 win.
“We didn’t play well again, but pulled out the ‘W,’ ” Nelson said. “We lost Katie Zuelsdorff to an ankle injury, so hopefully we’ll get her back before next week. Tonight just was another night where our potential is high, but our play was low. We need to do a lot of work in practice to get ready for Marshfield on Thursday.
“We need to get our blocking better, our consistency, and we need to get our dominant force back. Sometime in the last couple weeks we lost our appeal. A lot of teams are starting to see us as a beat-able team now.”
Nelson promised the sub-standard play–that is sub-standard on the Merrill volleyball scale–wouldn’t last.
“In the next week we will get it back,” she said. “After a conversation with my captains after the game tonight, I really think that things are going to turn around. It’s starting to sink in that they need to take what we do in practice and apply it in the games. We will be turning things around.”
Powering the MHS attack were: Sladek (12 kills, 4 blocks, 6 digs); Krueger (6 k, 34 assists, 7 d); Steffen (9 k); Piepenbrok (9 d); Byer (4 as, 3 d); Aubrey Wardall (5 k); Zamzow (5 d); Hojan (3 k); Anna Finnell 3 k).
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