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By Missy Klatt
After a disappointing 0-3 loss, their first of the season, to the Elk Mound Mounders last Tuesday, October 6th in Elk Mound, the Lady Hilltoppers’ volleyball team came from behind to win a five-set thriller on their home court two days later, Thursday, October 8th.
The Lady Tops are now sitting back on top of the Dunn-St. Croix conference with a record of 6-1 while the Mounders are 6-2 in this shortened season.
The Lady Toppers were fired up at the start of the match when they came out and took a 3-0 lead to start the first set. Shortly after, the Mounders had things tied up at four. From then on it was a back-and-forth battle with the edge to Hilltoppers for the first half of the set.
At 13-9, the Toppers had their biggest lead of the set, however, the Mounders fought their way back and tied things up again at 14. The battle continued with the lead changing continually. The Mounders finally prevailed and took the set 28-26. If it wasn’t for a few small errors the game could have gone the Toppers’ way.
In the second set, Glenwood City soon found itself down 1-7. The Hilltoppers started to work their way back and pulled to within four, 7-11, after a kill from Bella Rassbach. The Mounders then crept ahead again before the Toppers once again pulled to within four, 14-18, after a kill from Yazmin Mendez. A short time later, the Mounders lead was down to three with the score Elk Mound 19, Glenwood City 13. At this point, the Mounders took a timeout and the Toppers, with too many little errors, couldn’t overcome the deficit and lost the second set 19-25.
In the third set the Toppers just couldn’t seem to get anything going and then they started having trouble with their tip coverage and struggled with serve reception. In the end, the Mounders won the third set fairly easily at 25-16.
Glenwood City head coach Nicole Miller remarked, “The little errors added up in the second set and spilled over to the third set and they couldn’t shake it, it’s harder when you are not playing in your own gym.” She went on to say that they struggled picking up the Mounders’ hits and tips. They also struggled to set the ball up for hits. “We fed them more free-balls and easy tips than we should have. It set Elk Mound up for easy plays to be able to increase their chances at better hits.”
For the night, freshman Ryeah Oehlke led the Toppers in stats with seven kills, eleven digs, twelve assists, one ace and two solo blocks. Maddie Oehlke and Yasmin Mendez each had six kills. Bella Rassbach had five kills and nine digs. Allaina Johnson had five digs, eleven serve receptions with no errors.
“Thursday’s match started out pretty rough,” commented Coach Miller.
And it showed as the Toppers trailed 1-7 early in the first set. Miller said that her team struggled with getting serves up to the setter and with their hit coverage. As a result, the Toppers lost the first set 12-25.
In the second set, the Toppers again found themselves down early in the set, however, they were able to work their way back up and only lost the set by three points, 22-25. Miller stated that her players continued to work together and kept fighting as a team on what they worked on after playing the Mounders on Tuesday.
The turnaround in the match happened in the third set. According to Miller, by the third set the girls passing game had improved which turned into great sets up to their hitters who continued to swing away and the rest of the match and Elk Mound couldn’t stop them.
“We were able to shut down their good outside hitters and forced them to tip to us which allowed for more digs and chances to set the ball up for kills,” noted Miller.
The Lady Tops took the third set 25-22 and the fourth 25-18.
It all game down to the fifth, 15-point set. It was a bit of a nail biter as the Toppers took it into overtime, winning 16-14.
“It was an incredible night of volleyball! The never-give-up attitude and team strength the girls have is not often found at the high school level. I am lucky to be able to coach this great group of athletes!!!!” exclaimed Coach Miller.
Going five sets, the Toppers racked up 86 digs for the night. Rassbach led the way with twenty-two followed by Mendez with seventeen, Alex Peterson with thirteen, Maddie Oehlke twelve, and Kristin Dayton ten. Defensively at the net Maddie Oehlke had five block assists with Dayton adding four more. Ryeah Oehlke had two solo blocks and Mendez had one.
The Toppers racked up six aces during the match with the Oehlke sisters and Mendez each having two.
On the attack, Maddie Oehlke led the team in kills with sixteen followed by Mendez with eleven and Ryeah Oehlke with eight. Ryeah also had twenty-five set assists and Maddie fourteen.
This week Glenwood City is up against local rival, the Boyceville Bulldogs. Last night, October 13th they played in Boyceville (1-5) and on Thursday the 15th the Toppers will host the Bulldogs.
Glenwood City is slated to begin the WIAA Division 3 tournament next Tuesday, October 20. The Hilltoppers are part of a 5-team regional grouping that also includes Boyceville, Clear Lake, Colfax and Spring Valley. Winners will advance to the regional semifinals on Thursday, October 29 with the championship match to be played on Saturday, October 31.