By Cara L. Dempski
COLFAX — The worst part of the most recent chapter of the Colfax/Elk Mound rivalry is someone had to lose.
The Vikings and Mounders both went into the September 28 matchup at Colfax undefeated in the Dunn-St. Croix play, and the big question of the night was which would prevail: Elk Mound’s blocking wall of Morgan Radtke, Kourtney Zurbuchen and Allie Weber, or Colfax’s hard-hitting, swift-swinging front row.
[emember_protected] For a while, it looked like coach Samantha Stelter’s Mounders would come out on top, after the visiting team nabbed a 25-14 win in the first set, and a 25-21 victory in the second.
But then, there was a subtle shift in the Colfax gym.
The result was Pam Meredith’s Vikings copping a 25-19 win in the third, slamming the Mounders (14-12) 25-12 in the fourth, and then putting the match away with a 15-6 win in the fifth to stay undefeated in the Dunn. St. Croix.
The loss dropped Elk Mound’s Dunn-St. Croix record to 3-1, while lifting Colfax to 5-0, leaving them one-half game ahead of Mondovi (4-0) with whom the Vikings shared last year’s conference volleyball crown.
The win keeps Colfax (15-10) on track for a fifth straight Dunn-St. Croix title.
“We knew to be ready for a battle, and that’s what we got,” Stelter said the following day. “We held our composure and played very level-headed through the first two sets. Game three, Colfax had worked out their own kins, and we started to struggle.”
Stelter noted earlier in the week her team is not known for its “race out the gate” mentality in matches, so it seemed somewhat uncharacteristic for the Mounders to blast past the Vikings in the first set 25-14. Coach Pam Meredith’s Colfax squad took a breather between the first and the second, which seemed to give the Lady Vikings a spark, as they dueled their way to a 25-21 loss in the second.
The Mounders forced the Vikings out of system several times in the first two sets, giving the Elk Mound ladies’ ample opportunity to drop the ball pretty much anywhere they chose on the court. By the time the third set rolled around, though, Colfax was showing signs of figuring out ways around the Mounder defense, and maneuvered to give themselves the offensive advantage.
“The Vikings stormed back in sets three, four and five, with some great passing, good set choices, and some dynamic defensive play,” Meredith commented. “I give a ton of credit to Elk Mound as they came out ready to play and found us on our heels more often than not in the first two sets.”
The Lady Vikings closed the gaps on the floor, leaving little room for the Mounders to easily score, and got their arms swinging fast and hard to plant the ball on the hardwood after identifying weak spots in much the same manner Elk Mound did to start the match.
That, coupled with the fact that the longer the two teams played, the heavier Elk Mound’s feet seemed to become, and there is no wonder behind how the Mounders fell behind midway through the fourth set before the wheels started to come off in the fifth.
Once the Vikings started swinging, the Mounders’ had a hard time putting a stop to them. Sophomore Samantha Pretasky set a new Colfax record after logging 22 kills in the game. Jozie Buchanan fired in another eight, Kameri Meredith chalked up five, Rachael Scharlau and Makayla Mattson tied with three each, and Savannah Henricks logged a pair.
Alyssa Dachel led the team with six aces, Meredith had five, Scharlau logged three, Henricks and Buchanan tied with a pair apiece, and Kalie Risler logged one. The sophomore setter, Buchanan, also led the team with 23 assists. Taylor Irwin provided another 10, Meredith took credit for five, Scharlau logged three, and Henricks recorded one.
Meredith led the team digging stats with 16, but Dachel slipped in just behind her with 15 digs. Buchanan accounted for nine, Scharlau and Henricks tied with seven apiece, Irwin took four, Pretasky three, and Mattson one.
Radtke contributed 17 of the Mounders’ 45 kills over the five-set slugfest, and senior Allie Weber added another 10. Kourtney Zurbuchen was good for nine, Cassidy Yakesh landed seven, and Madysen Borofka drilled down two.
The senior Borofka led the Mounders with 31 assists, while Kortnee Halgren contributed four, and Sophie Cedarblade, Weber, and Radtke each logged one. Radtke also led the team with four aces, with Cedarblade, Borofka and Hailey Blaskowski each recording one.
Elk Mound’s staunchest defender against the Vikings last Thursday was senior Alex Jenson, who added 15 digs to her season tally. Weber accounted for 13 more, Blaskowski and Borofka are credited with 10, Cedarblade took nine, Yakesh recorded six, Halgren is credited with five, Radtke provided four digs, and Zurbuchen logged one.
Colfax took on the Raiders at Elmwood October 3, and will host Glenwood City tomorrow (October 5). Volleyball tournament seeding meetings starts October 7, and the Lady Vikings will play their final regular season match next Tuesday, October 10 at Mondovi.
Elk Mound faced Spring Valley at home October 3 before hosting Elmwood October 5. The Mounders travel to Glenwood City October 10, and host Mondovi for their final conference and regular season match on Thursday, October 12. [/emember_protected]