The Elk Mound volleyball team made things a whole lot more interesting in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference when they came up with a spectacular five set win over the undefeated Mondovi Buffaloes Oct 1. in their home gym. The win created a five way tie for the lead in the conference but things changed pretty fast when the Mounders lost in five sets to the 2-3 Pepin Lakers just two days later. The loss gives Elk Mound a 4-2 record with three conference games left on the schedule.
Fans knew they were in for an exciting match when the first set saw six tie scores, the last at 11-11 before the Buffs pulled ahead 21-13. An out of bounds serve on their part broke the string of points and the Mounders mounted a comeback on a kill from Anna Sessions along with three more Mondovi errors to get the Mounders closer, down 21-17.A slam down the middle by Moriah Mauer brought the Mounders to within three at 22-19 but Morgan Polden’s kill shot was the final point of the set for the team as they lost 25-22.
The Mounders took control of the net in set two and after a kill from Polden on her second attempt and two more by Sessions, Elk Mound led 3-2 and held a slim lead the rest of the set. Their biggest lead was four points which happened several times at 7-3, 13-9, 17-13, 20-16 and 21-17. After Mondovi pulled to within a point at 21-20, Elk Mound coach Donna Weix called a time out to get her troops re-focused and Polden responded with a quick kill. With Rachel Caron at the service line, the Mounders scored twice on some solid net play and after an error on their part, Mondovi served the ball out of bounds to give Elk Mound a 25-21 win.
“That was big for us to come back after the first set loss,” Weix said. “We talked about being resilient and getting back to playing our style of game. We knew we had to keep playing aggressive against their tough defense.”
Polden scored on a tip shot and a service ace to go with a Sessions kill for a 3-2 lead in the third set and the Mounders again continued to hang on for the lead, the largest at 9-4. But a few of their kills went off the mark along with a serve into the net and Elk Mound had just an 11-10 lead. Polden came up with a huge slam down the sideline and added a cross court shot for a 14-12 lead but Mondovi knotted things up at 14-14. After Mondovi held two point leads several times, the Mounders got back to a point twice with Katie Johnson setting up Polden both times for kills but a ball that rolled along the net fell on the Mounders side for a Buffalo point, and with their ace serve and a missed tip shot by Elk Mound, Mondovi took set three 25-21.
But that seemed to fuel the fire for the Mounders and after losing the first point of the fourth set, Lizzie Schreiber put a shot to the floor and the Mounders took the lead on Polden’s kill and never trailed after that. They appeared to fluster the Buffalo players when they either blocked shots at the net or chased down every kill Mondovi attempted. The Mounders went up 16-8 on a pair of aces by Johnson who also had a slick backset to Schreiber for a slam in the run. They increased the lead to 10 at 19-9 but a Schreiber blast right past two Buffalo blockers put the score at 20-12. Katie Benson then served up four straight points with an ace included and at 24-12, Mondovi made a run with three straight points but they served it out and the Mounders had set four at 25-15, heading into the final set with plenty of momentum.
And that was an understatement as Benson started serving and didn’t quit until her team had a 6-0 lead with two un-returnable serves in the mix. Schreiber had a kill in the run but the Buffs were now in panic mode and gave up points on a net shot, an out of bounds kill and a double hit. They finally put down a kill but the Mounders were now on automatic pilot and raised the lead to 9-1 on a Polden tip, a Sessions block and another Mondovi error.The closest Elk Mound allowed them to get was within seven points at 12-5 but it was set and match when Mauer put down her sixth kill of the night to finish things off 15-5.
Weix believes the key to the Mounder win was their ability to keep pressure on Mondovi through five sets.
“We passed and set up our hitters well and that allowed us to wear them down,” she said. “We continued to attack all night and that threw them off their game. With our starting middle hitter out (Elly Friberg), Katie Benson stepped up and had a great game. Mondovi is an excellent team and we knew we would have to play aggressive and be consistent to win and we did just that,” she added.
Sessions and Polden combined for 33 kills as Sessions slammed 18 and Polden 15. Schreiber added seven to go with six by Mauer and five from Benson. The Mounders missed just six serves and Johnson aced the Buffs three times while Benson added a pair of aces. Johnson picked up 41 of the Mounders 46 assists and defensively, the team came up with 83 digs as Kyra Anderson, Mckenna Borofka and Caron combined for 62 of them to save points for the team. Sessions had two blocks to lead the team in that department.
The first four sets were all close as the Mounders pulled off a 27-25 win in the first one, lost the second one 25-19, came back to take the third at 25-21, dropped number four 25-23 and the final set 15-7.
Schreiber led the Mounders with 16 kills while Polden and Sessions both collected 11. Johnson again led in assists with 38 and had 11 digs while Schreiber had 10 sets. Caron finished with 13 digs and four service aces and Anderson dug the ball up 13 times.