CHERRY— The Grizzlies were decidedly shorthanded when they faced Cherry here on Tuesday, with only two substitutes remaining in their lineup. Making matters worse, both had played in the junior …
CHERRY— The Grizzlies were decidedly shorthanded when they faced Cherry here on Tuesday, with only two substitutes remaining in their lineup. Making matters worse, both had played in the junior varsity match, which restricted their available playing time for varsity.
That meant Head Coach Kandi Olson had only one real option available to her, which was to put her best six available players in the starting rotation and get the most out of them.
And that’s exactly what happened, as the Grizzlies were calm, cool and collected, even though the rotation took several of them out of familiar positions at times. Building on what they’d practiced during a weekend tournament at Hill City, players were filling holes, diving all over the floor, and setting teammates up for winners.
It all paid off in a 3-0 win, with scores of 25-20, 26-24, and 25-18 over the Tigers.
“We couldn’t use those reserves until later, just in case we went five games, because they had already played a couple of JV games,” Olson said. “So, we told our starting six that they had to play from the second that ball is struck at the beginning to the end of the game. They did, and they worked hard tonight.”
That hustle and scrambling style paid off for the Grizzlies, Olson said.
“The pressure that they put on the other team just by always being everywhere they put the ball is something that’s hard for another offense,” she said. “They don’t know where to put the ball, they keep trying other spots, and we were there tonight, and that was good.”
Hill City tournament
It was a long road trip for the North Woods volleyball team on Saturday, but a productive one, as the Grizzlies took second place in the Hill City tournament with a 3-1 record.
The Grizzlies were seeded No. 1 after opening rounds wins over Bagley, 25-15 and 25-13, and McGregor, 25-14 and 25-8, and polished off Duluth-Marshall, 25-15 and 25-21, to reach the finals.
In the championship match the Grizzlies had to contend with host Hill City and their home court advantage.
“Hill City still had fans there yelling, and being on their home court was helpful,” Grizzlies Head Coach Kandi Olson said. “You could definitely tell they looked comfortable there. They definitely took charge at the net and made us work for every point.”
Hill City came out on top, 25-19 and 25-18, but Olson was nonetheless pleased with what the team accomplished.
“Each game provided something, some new dynamic that we had to work on,” Olson said.
A consistent emphasis for the Grizzlies was play in the back row to facilitate scoring opportunities.
“One of the main things we talked about and focused on throughout the day was making sure that we are in the correct hitting lane ready to take any shot that might glance off the blocker or miss the blocker,” Olson said. “It takes a lot of time for a back row player to study hitters and figure out where to be. Over and over again I keep hearing from other coaches that they just love how scrappy our kids are, and I couldn’t agree more. We have kids who are willing to dive for any ball that’s coming to try to get it to a playable point.”
North Woods was scheduled for a road trip to Ely on Thursday. After a Saturday tournament at Virginia the Grizzlies will be back at home on Monday, Sept. 27 to take on Littlefork-Big Falls.
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