FIELD TWP – The North Woods volleyball team won five consecutive matches to open the season, but they couldn’t make it six on Tuesday at home against South Ridge, with the Panthers coming …
FIELD TWP – The North Woods volleyball team won five consecutive matches to open the season, but they couldn’t make it six on Tuesday at home against South Ridge, with the Panthers coming from behind for the 3-1 match win.
This clash was a battle royale from the start, with all the action and excitement a pure volleyball fan could ask for. The teams were evenly matched with seven ties through 14-14. A South Ridge surge put the Panthers up 19-15, but the Grizzlies came roaring back to tie the game at 19-19 when a Panthers hit sailed wide. South Ridge went up 21-19 on a kill and a North Woods miscue, but a River Cheney block and a clever quick hitter by Talise Goodsky brought the Grizzlies back even. The score was tied at 24 when Addy Hartway slammed a shot to put North Woods up by one, and Isabel Pascuzzi closed out the win with a crosscourt smash, 26-24.
North Woods took control of the second set early with a 4-0 run that put them up 9-5, and the Grizzlies extended that to seven points at 18-11, appearing to have the set well in hand. Still trailing 22-16, the Panthers began chipping away at the deficit, and trailed by only two, 23-21, when Cheney scored a kill to give the Grizzlies the serve and three set points to work with.
But the Panthers dug deep into their bag of nine lives and used three on a pair of kills and a block to even the score at 24-24. It was the Grizzlies’ turn to stave off a match point at 25-24, with Lauren Burnett launching an arching backward return that found the deep left corner. The teams tied at 26, 27, and 28 before South Ridge scored the final two points for the big 30-28 comeback win.
The loss didn’t appear to deflate the Grizzlies as much as it emboldened the Panthers in the final two sets. From an 11-11 tie in set three, South Ridge took control of the tempo of the match, never letting the Grizzlies control the serve for more than a point or two. The Panthers steadily pulled away to win 25-18.
Riding their momentum, the Panthers broke out to a 5-0 lead in the fourth set and never trailed, stretching the lead to nine at 18-9. The Grizzlies gamely fought back to within four at 20-16, but that was as close as they would get as the Panthers close out the match win with a 25-16 victory.
The Grizzlies put on a clinic in Tuesday’s home match against Deer River showing how a better team should take care of business against a weaker opponent. A hotly contested rivalry in past seasons, this year’s Warriors squad simply didn’t have the talent they needed to compete with the red-hot Grizzlies.
North Woods was firing on all cylinders with its serving, passing, and hitting twisting Deer River into knots trying to defend against them. The Grizzlies breezed through the match, winning 25-15, 23-12, and 25-11.
Head Coach Kandi Olson commended her team on staying focused in the match.
“Deer River can always come out hot and we wanted to make sure that we were playing our best game coming out of the gate tonight and I think we did that,” Olson said. “The best thing that happened tonight is that they kept their energy up all night and didn’t let anything tear them down. We have been working on our focus, and the big thing we wanted to do today was to make sure that when we had one or two things go wrong that we regained our focus and got the ball back right away.”
Olson gave a good deal of credit for the win to the Grizzlies’ serving.
“Our kids are just tough servers,” she said. “We talk a lot in practice about where to put the ball, and those kids are seasoned. They know where to put it, and most of the time I don’t have to tell them anything. They just know where the ball needs to go.”
Olson said the match was also somewhat of a breakout affair for senior Addy Hartway.
“Addy had a killer game,” Olson said. “I think this was probably one of the best games I’ve ever seen her play, and I’m so excited for her because she’s just been getting better all season long.”
The Giants of Mesabi East invaded the home of the Grizzlies on Thursday with enough weaponry to pose a stout challenge to the host, but the Grizzlies dispatched their foes in straight sets.
The teams battled back and forth to a 12-12 tie in the first set, and then Burnett gave the Grizzlies the lead for good with a big kill. The Giants remained close at 20-18, but North Woods took charge and finished with a 25-20 win.
The second set was hotly contested with the teams tied seven times through 18-18. North Woods opened a three-point edge on three consecutive Giants errors, but Mesabi East battled back to tie the score again with an ace, 24-24. Burnett scored on a little bump shot to an open hole in the defense, and a Giants kill shot sailed wide to hand the set to the Grizzlies 26-24.
Down 2-0, the Giants refused to go quietly in the third set. Mesabi East hitters found the mark and kept North Woods off balance as the Giants forged a 13-8 advantage. But the Grizzles regained their composure and methodically worked their way back, taking a 19-18 lead when a Giants kill shot sailed past the end line. After getting called for a double that tied the score, Cheney fired back with a kill to put North Woods in the lead again. A push shot by Hartway gave the Grizzlies a 23-20 lead, and it was Hartway again, this time with a block, who scored the final point in a 25-22 win.
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