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by Marlys Kruger
It wasn’t quite the usual five-set match the Colfax Vikings and Elk Mound Mounders volleyball teams are used to playing, but it turned out to be another exciting one with the Vikings coming from behind to earn a win in four sets in front of a full house in Elk Mound Thursday, October 7.
Both teams, along with Elmwood/Plum City were all 4-0 in Dunn-St. Croix Conference play when the night began and when the night ended, Colfax and E/PC were 5-0 and Elk Mound was 4-1. Colfax hosted E/PC Tuesday night, October 12.
Set number one was knotted up eight times, the last time at 11-11 before the Mounders began to pull away. Although they didn’t help their cause much with five serving errors, the Vikings were struggling themselves, trying to keep the ball in the court which resulted in several errors on kill attempts.
McKenna Diermeier blasted a kill for the Mounders and served up an ace to put her team up 14-11 and when the Vikings closed the gap at 16-14, the Mounders went on a five-point run to go up 21-14 with a Stella Rhude kill and several of those Viking errors. Jeanette Hydukovich nailed a pair of kills for the Vikings to cut the Mounder lead to 23-18 but Elk Mound finished off the set at 25-19.
Both teams have only two seniors this year, Madison Barstad and Aliyah Rihn for Colfax and Diermeier and Issie Hollister for Elk Mound. Barstad and Diermeier are four-year varsity players and they have been battling each other all those years, and this night was no exception.
After a 5-5 tie in set two, Barstad blocked a shot and the second of six serving errors in the game by the Mounders gave Colfax a 9-7 lead. The score was knotted at 9-9, 10-10, 11-11, 12-12 and at 13-13 before a Barstad tip shot and three Mounder errors put the Vikings up 17-13. Diermeier’s kill was countered by Katelyn Sarauer’s ace serve and Hydukovich’s block for a 22-18 Colfax advantage. Elk Mound fought back to within a point, down 22-21, but a block by Jada Anderson and a mis-hit by the Mounders gave the Vikings some breathing room and set point at 24-21. The Mounder girls weren’t giving in however, as they forced several Viking errors and knotted it up at 24-24 before Colfax took the set 26-24.
Colfax jumped out to a 6-1 advantage in set three before Diermeier broke the run with a slammer to the floor. After the Vikings upped the lead to 8-2, Hollister served up a couple of points to get the Mounders to within three, down 8-5 but Barstad placed a kill down the middle.
The Mounders kept creeping up though and with a Diermeier smack it was suddenly 12-12 and on a tip shot by a Mounder player and an ace serve from Tori Blaskowski, it was 14-12 for the Elk Mound team. Anderson came up with a kill and a Mounder error knotted it up at 14-14, and a serving error by Colfax put Elk Mound back up.
Colfax tied it at 15-15, Elk Mound regained the lead at 17-15 which included a kill by Gracie Carlton but the Vikings fought back and went up 18-17 before Rhude slammed back-to-back kills for a 19-18 Mounder lead.
With a Viking error it was 20-18 but Barstad scored on a kill and it was 20-19. A pair of Mounders blocked a shot for a point, but they committed another serving error and it was 21-21.Brooke Emery put Elk Mound up yet again with a smash but with the score knotted at 22-22, the Vikings buckled down. Barstad scored on a slick tip shot, Hydukovich scored on a kill and Maci Harvey put the set away at 25-22 with a final slam.
Moving into set four, Diermeier and Kate Mohr came up with a block and Rhude added a tip shot to help the Mounders go up 5-3.
Another Barstad tip and one from Harvey along with her two ace serves and a block by Anderson gave the Vikings a 11-6 lead. Barstad came up with an ace from the service line but Diermeier countered with a kill and it was 14-10 for the Vikings. They upped that lead to 17-11 with a McKenna Shipman kill but these Mounders continued to put pressure on and knotted things up at 19-19 when Hollister served up an ace.
With Shipman serving for Colfax, the teams had their longest rally of the match with the ball going over the net at least 12 times, resulting in a Colfax point. Barstad put the hammer down twice for points followed by Harvey’s slam for a 23-19 advantage and the Vikings took game, set and match on a kill and a Mounder shot into the net.
“As always, this was an epic match between the Vikings and Mounders,” Colfax coach Pam Meredith said. “Very rarely do our matches go less than five sets so this was a rarity. It is always fun to watch two talented players like Barstad and Diermeier who have competed against each other for four years battle it out on the court. As coaches and fans, we really need to appreciate all of the time and effort these two ladies put into leading their teams.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of our players,” she continued. “After dropping the first set they didn’t panic but persevered. After that set and again after my final timeout at the end of set two when we were up 22-21, our main discussion point was the concept of “fight or flight” and how that pertained to our competition. It’s not if you make a mistake but when and how you are going to respond to it. Mentally we stayed strong and pulled out the win. I thought Elk Mound’s two seniors did a good job of minimizing Barstad’s impact on the match offensively,” she added.
Diermeier led both teams in kills with 24 and also had 20 digs and three service aces. Rhude tallied 12 kills and two aces, Blaskowski picked up a game-high 36 assists with ten digs, Hollister had 21 digs and Carlton was credited with two blocks. The Mounders committed 17 serving errors in the match.
Barstad finished with nine kills, 12 digs and 15 assists for the Vikings. Hydukovich added ten kills, Harvey added seven kills, two aces and nine digs, Peterson dug the ball up 15 times with a pair of aces, Sarauer collected 13 digs and two aces and Shipman tacked on eight digs and 11 assists.
Colfax, currently 15-14 overall which included a home triangular last Monday and a Saturday tournament in Altoona, will close out the regular and conference season this Thursday, October 14 in Glenwood City.
Elk Mound (15-17), who also competed in the Altoona Invite, will finish out the regular season on the road with matches in Spring Valley Tuesday and at Plum City against those E/PC Wolves on Thursday.
WIAA regional competition begins next Tuesday, October 19 with Colfax playing in Division 3 and Elk Mound in Division 2.
Vikings’ coach Meredith may have been looking for some tough competition to prepare for the Mounders when they hosted Menomonie and Bloomer earlier in the week.
The Vikings lost to both teams, dropping two sets to Bloomer 25-19, 25-15. Barstad came up with three kills while Rihn and Hydukovich both had two. Anderson contributed with eight digs while Harvey had seven digs and Shipman tacked on five digs with six assists.
Colfax lost in three sets to the Mustangs, dropping the first one 25-19, winning the second 25-17 and losing the third set in overtime 17-15. Barstad slammed 11 kills, Harvey served up five aces with seven digs, Anderson finished with 10 digs and Shipman set her teammates up 11 times.
The Lady Vikes and Mounders finished off their week in a tournament held in Altoona Saturday, October 9.
With Coach Meredith allowing some of her starters to take a break and sit out a few games, Colfax lost all three of their matches against Eau Claire North, Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran and St. Croix Central. Everyone on Meredith’s bench saw action in the tournament.
Colfax lost 25-16, 25-16 to North as Shipman, Barstad and Anderson all slammed three kills. Shipman added nine digs with five assists, Barstad added on four digs and Anderson five while Lexi Schindler finished with four digs.
In another two set loss to Immanuel, 25-14, 25-18 Barstad and Hydukovich both had four kills, Peterson slammed three kills with seven digs, Harvey added six digs and Shipman led in assists with nine with five digs.
It was another two set loss to Central 25-7, 25-13 with Anderson digging the ball up eight times while Hydukovich led Colfax in kills with three and Barstad had three assists.
Elk Mound also lost all three of its contests in the Altoona tournament.
The Mounders suffered a pair of two-set losses to Big Rivers teams Hudson and Chippewa Falls. Elk Mound fell 10-25 and 15-15 to the Raiders of Hudson and 20-25 and 19-25 to Chi-Hi.
In its final match of the day, Elk Mound split the first two sets with Baldwin-Woodville with the Blackhawks squeaking out a 26-24 win in the opener and the Mounders rallying for a 25-21 victory in the second set. But B-W took the third set and match with a 15-10 win.