Tigers put the bite on Bluejays spikers for second time
The Bluejay girls finally lost a Valley match in Saturday’s WVC #1 Meet at Wausau East.
They had crushed D.C. Everest on Thursday, but battled to Saturday’s close win with Wausau East (16-25, 25-22, 25-17, 18-25, 15-9) before dropping a 19-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 15-8 match to Marshfield. They rallied with a 25-17, 25-11, 25-13 rout of Wis. Rapids.
“Overall this was not our best showing,” MHS coach Steph Nelson said. “But don’t count us out yet. We still have the second half of conference play and my girls have a score to settle.
“Marshfield is an excellent team; losing to them is a heartbreaker, yet there is so much that can be learned from the match.
“We did not play to our potential the entire day or even for an entire match. I think the closest we got to playing our best was against Marshfield. The first and third games especially, we were passing, communicating and blocking well, and lastly we were playing smart volleyball and made a lot of great offensive plays. Where Marshfield won the match was in their consistency.
“By the time we got to the fifth game of our Marshfield match we had already played nine games in a matter of only a couple hours. That is tough no matter how great of shape a person is in.
“East played extremely well; they hit the ball well, exposed our weaknesses well, and they played extremely scrappy defense. Offensively, we occasionally got into a tipping match with them instead of just hitting the ball around the block. I will say, that in the 5th game the girls played probably the smartest and most lethal offense I’ve seen them play in a long time. It really helped the offense to have Jenna Zamzow and Bri Piepenbrok playing so well behind them. Their passing was excellent and they did a great job of reading what East was doing.”
Nelson got a forward glimpse in the finale.
“Our first game against (Rapids) was extremely rough,” she said. “The next two games were much better; communication was better, decision making was better, and passing was better. The last game we played well enough that we felt we could put some of our split JV/varsity girls in. The ladies did a great job jumping into a varsity match. Freshman Anna Finnell had 4 kills on only 6 attempts. It was nice to see them step up and have the full-time varsity girls cheering them on. It makes me feel very confident that our future will be strong.”
The Bluejays were paced by: Renee Sladek (55 kills, 3 aces, 12 blocks, 10 digs); Lindsay Krueger (23 k, 3 ac, 138 assists, 3 bl, 17 d); Piepenbrok (5 k, 4 as, 61 d); Katie Zuelsdorff (45 k, 4 as, 5 ac, 2 bl, 16 d); Aubrey Wardall (27 k, 4 as, 12 bl, 5 d); Zamzow (48 d); Lauren Hojan (21 k, 9 bl); Reegan Byer (24 as); Casey Steffen (13 k, 2 bl); JoJo Catlin (3 k, 2 bl); Anna Finnell (4 k).
The Tigers had also defeated Merrill in a non-conference meeting in the Marshfield Invite.
Merrill improved to 29-3 overall, and 4-1 in the Valley.
Trimming the Evergreens
Merrill knocked off D.C. Everest 25-16, 25-13, 25-18.
“We didn’t play to our potential, but we definitely did not play bad,” Nelson said. “DCE is a very scrappy team and we kept them out of system a lot, which is a good thing, but we seemed to struggle getting a big kill.
“The girls played very smart with the sets that we had, but against some of the other teams in the conference we can’t always rely on just placing the ball smart; we have to go hard and smart. We played pretty scrappy defense ourselves.
“Overall, it was an okay win; nothing to get too excited about, but yet one part of the game that we did improve on from last week was our consistency. We didn’t have nearly as many dips in our performance as we did; just played very consistently less than great.
“Bri Piepenbrok played pretty well tonight as well as Renee Sladek and Lindsay Krueger, but we need to sharpen up our passes a little more so we can utilize Renee more often and in better situations. She didn’t get the ball nearly as much as we need her to get it.”
The squad was paced by Krueger (6 k, 22 as, 3 d); Piepenbrok (17 d); Byer (13 as, 5 d); Zuelsdorff (6 k, 3 bl, 5 d); Sladek (10 k, 2 bl); Hojan (3 k, 3 bl); and Steffen (4 k).