FIELD TWP- While Tuesday’s weather was less than ideal for a road trip, the North Woods varsity volleyball team and fans didn’t mind the drive back home from Bigfork, as the Grizzlies won …
FIELD TWP- While Tuesday’s weather was less than ideal for a road trip, the North Woods varsity volleyball team and fans didn’t mind the drive back home from Bigfork, as the Grizzlies won their first match of the season by defeating the host Huskies 3-1.
It was only the second match of the COVID-shortened season for the Grizzlies, who had two schools cancel matches with them last week for health reasons, and they had a cheering section for motivation.
“The roads were definitely an adventure, so we didn’t expect many fans, but sure enough, a large number of the parents did show up,” Head Coach Kandi Olson said.
The forced layoff gave the Grizzlies more practice time, but by Tuesday they were more than ready to square off against someone other than themselves.
“That unexpected week off definitely brought our momentum down,” Olson said. “The kids were so frazzled by the fact that other teams were playing and we weren’t. We would have definitely benefitted from more game experience.”
North Woods lost the first game 23-25 in a back-and-forth style that suggested the team was a bit rusty.
“We actually had a sluggish start,” Olson said. “It took us a little while to get into game mode. I think losing the first game was a good wakeup call for us.”
Wakeup was an understatement, as the Grizzlies thoroughly dominated the Huskies in the second game with strong serving and tenacious defense, winning 25-5.
“Our serving really led the way,” Olson said. “They really decided to turn the volume up and they took it to an extreme level. The energy they had on the court was fantastic.”
Bigfork regained its composure and pushed the Grizzlies in the next game, but North Woods prevailed 25-17. The final game was a reverse of the first, with the Grizzlies coming out on top with a 25-23 decision to win the match.
“It was back and forth the whole way, and once again we had several players playing different positions, and it just took a little while to find their groove,” Olson said. “Going into the third game we let our foot off the gas. It was a good lesson for us about what we can do when we push really hard and what happens when we take a break.”
With only two matches played thus far, Olson is still juggling lineups and positions with her young team as she searches for combinations that click.
“Seeing how the kids work with each other and next to each other is a critical part of volleyball,” Olson said. “Some of those live game experiences show you which people work really well together and who needs to be moved to work well with someone else.”
The Grizzlies didn’t have to wait long to get back on the court, as they were scheduled to play at Mesabi East on Thursday. Their belated home opener is set for Tuesday, Oct. 27 against Eveleth-Gilbert.