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By Marlys Kruger
In past years, the Dunn-St. Croix volleyball championship has come down to the final match of the regular season between Colfax and Elk Mound. But with the schedule change due to the COVID-19 virus, these teams found themselves playing a match on each of their home courts to open the 2020 season with each team winning on the other’s home floor.
Both contests were settled in four sets.
Playing at Elk Mound Tuesday night, September 15, the Mounders jumped off to a 7-3 lead in the first set before winning 25-19, but the Vikings roared back to win the match (3-1) taking the next three sets 25-21, 25-22 and 28-26.
“Tuesday’s win in four sets was a nice way to start the season and we found out how gritty they were in a tough match,” stated Colfax head coach Pam Meredith. “Although, we don’t have the offensive weapons we did last year, this group has figured out a way to compete with their own style.”
Statistically, Colfax had 33 kills in its season-opener win over Elk Mound as Madison Barstad led with 15; 10 aces with three credited to Brooklyn Stehling and two each by Abigail Irwin, Jada Anderson and Maci Harvey; 98 digs led by Jada Anderson’s 26 and 22 from Bailey Bradford; 32 assists topped by Stehling with 18 and 11 for Barstad; and Irwin had the Vikings only block.
Playing in Colfax just two days later, the first set was tied at 7-7 before the Vikings pulled out to a 15-9 lead and it appeared they would continue their winning ways. But the Mounders, under first-year head coach Ryan Grimm, went on a roll with a pair of kills by Susan Marquardt and some slick serving by Tori Blaskowski to knot things up 15-15. Elk Mound then went ahead 19-15. Colfax tied it with a kill by Anna Geissler along with a ball that rolled across the top of the net at 19-19 but with a trio of kills, the Mounders took the set 25-20.
It was a battle at the net in set two, resulting in 18 tie scores and neither team leading by more than two points. At 22-22, Madison Barstad put down a kill for Colfax and a block by the Mounders’ Chloe Simpson put the score at 24-24. Jeanette Hydukovich slammed a pair of points for Colfax but each one was countered by the Mounders. At 27-27, a serving error by Elk Mound and a kill by Barstad gave Colfax the set at 29-27.
After Colfax took a 17-12 lead in the third set, it looked like they were in control, but Elk Mound had other ideas. With Blaskowski serving again, they rattled off six straight points to tie things at 18-18. The Mounders kept on going, pushing the score to 23-18 before the Vikings fought back to get within two points. But at set point, Brook Emery served up an ace for a 25-21 Mounders’ win.
Set four was close early on but with the Mounders leading 16-13, they went on a scoring spree that ended with them up 24-13, again with Blaskowski serving. A serving error by Colfax ended the set and match with Elk Mound winning 25-14.
“Thursday’s match against Elk Mound, although we lost in 4 very close sets (the match lasted 2 hours and 40 minutes) I saw some great things,” Colfax coach Pam Meredith stated. “We had opportunities in sets 1 and 3 (especially 3) but unfortunately didn’t capitalize so back to the drawing board in practice! I feel our tanks were a little empty at the end but who can blame these athletes, wearing a mask while competing at a high level for that long is tough.”
Meredith also gave kudos to the Mounders’ players McKenna Diermeier and Susan Marquardt for “their valiant effort on the floor Thursday” and credit both with making a difference in the match for the Mounders.
Colfax upped its kills in the latter match with 36 including 11 each by Bailey Bradford and Madison Barstad. Jada Anderson had four of the team’s seven aces while Jeanette Hydukovich was responsible for all three of the Vikings blocks. Maci Harvey, Jada Anderson and Abigail Irwin finished with double-digit digs with 28, 16 and 10 respectively while Stehling and Barstad each registered 15 assists.
“Incredibly proud of these young ladies and how hard they work,” continued Meredith. “Considering we graduated nine seniors who monopolized varsity spots for 4 years, what this group of athletes has done in just 7 days of practice is amazing! Their willingness to listen, learn, work hard and not get disgruntled when things don’t go their way is a breath of fresh air. We definitely have some things we need to “shore up” but that will come in time and we have to be patient with the process.”
Meredith concluded by saying. “I am proud of both these communities for their willingness to follow protocols and guidelines so these fall athletes can play. Although we split with Elk Mound this week, we all came out a winner in the end since playing volleyball, win or lose, is better than being sidelined for the season! Win – win!”
Unfortunately, no comments or statistics for Elk Mound were reported to the Messenger or posted online as of press time Monday afternoon.
Colfax will be playing Boyceville this week. The Vikings were in Boyceville last night, September 22, and will host the Bulldogs on Thursday, September 24. Colfax will play Spring Valley the following week with a home match against the Cardinals on Tuesday, September 29 and at Spring Valley on Thursday, October 1.
Meanwhile, Elk Mound was home (last night, September 22) and has an away contest (Thursday, September 24) with Mondovi this week, followed by a Thursday, October 1 home match against Elmwood/Plum City next week.
Check the Dunn-St. Croix Conference website for the most current schedules as they may change, be postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19. Spring Valley and Elmwood/Plum City have already had matches cancelled due to positive tests of athletes.