FIELD TWP- The North Woods Grizzlies bounced back Monday from a loss to Mesabi East last week by vanquishing visiting Deer River, 3-1.The teams matched each other point for point in the early going …
FIELD TWP- The North Woods Grizzlies bounced back Monday from a loss to Mesabi East last week by vanquishing visiting Deer River, 3-1.
The teams matched each other point for point in the early going of the opening game, with the Grizzlies opening a slim 13-10 lead on a slam by Addy Hartway. But the tables turned quickly, with the Warriors making a 6-0 run for a 16-13 lead. Morgan Burnett stepped up to serve and brought the Grizzlies back even at 18 with the first of three consecutive aces, and North Woods put together a 7-0 blitz for a 25-19 win.
The Grizzlies carried that momentum forward, playing some of their best ball of the season in the second stanza. Hannah Kinsey took charge at the net, scoring three of the Grizzlies first four points and Burnett served up a pair of aces as the Grizzlies took a 6-2 lead. Communicating well and hustling hard for digs and sets, the Grizzlies built a commanding 21-9 advantage, with Abbigail Shuster, Tori Olson, Burnett and Kinsey sharing the hitting load.
But the Warriors wouldn’t go down easily. Nevaeh Evans stopped the Grizzlies’ run with a kill and took over at server, leading a 7-0 run that narrowed the gap to 21-17. The Warriors got to within two, 23-21, but Hartway outdueled two Warriors at the net for a score, and Karah Scofield followed up with a service ace for the 25-21 win.
Game three started as a carbon copy of the first, with the teams trading points to a 10-10 tie. Then Deer River reeled off another 6-0 spurt and kept control the rest of the way for their only win of the night, 25-18.
With Skyler Yernatich serving, the Grizzlies quickly put that loss behind them, racing out to a 5-0 lead with a block and kill from Kinsey, a kill by Olson, and a pair of aces from Yernatich. The Grizzlies kept up the pressure at the net and from the service line as they built a ten-point lead at 18-8, then extended that to 12 points at 23-12. Scofield snuffed out a short Deer River run with a solid crosscourt kill, and Olson scored the game winner to close out the match with a 25-16 win.
Burnett’s sizzling 19 aces led a strong team performance from the service line, something Head Coach Kandi Olson said the team had set for a goal coming in.
“We knew that serving had been an issue in our last game, and we needed to make sure that our serving stayed at the level that we expected,” Olson said. “It was there tonight, and it made a huge difference. Morgan was acing the whole place out tonight.”
The Grizzlies also put a premium on hitting for this match, another focus that paid off, particularly in a breakout performance from Kinsey, who nailed 11 winners in a strong overall match at the net.
“She wanted that ball in her hands every single time, if possible,” Olson said. “And when she goes up, it pulls a huge block away from everyone else, too. Even if she doesn’t get the ball, if she is acting like she wants that ball, then it opens up our other two hitters, because blockers have to stay on her.”
Mesabi East came into a Sept. 9 match against North Woods with a clear height advantage, but it was no advantage at all in the fierce duel that characterized the first game of the match. While the lead exchanged hands several times, the Grizzlies turned a 9-9 tie into a 17-14 lead. After the Giants took a 20-18 lead, North Woods didn’t fold, knotting the score at 20. The Grizzlies fended off two set points before the Giants escaped with a 25-23 win.
Dropping that first game appeared to take a bit of the wind out of the Grizzlies’ sails. They fell behind by eight in the second game before coming back to a 13-13 tie, but lost 25-15, and never seriously challenged the Giants in a 25-14 loss in the third.
“We actually planned for their height in practice, and we were ready for that,” Olson said. “We just couldn’t seem to adjust and stay adjusted. But we learned a lot about ourselves in that first game, and I think we’re going to come back as a stronger team because of that.”
The Grizzlies came out on the short end of a match at Eveleth-Gilbert on Tuesday, losing 3-1. Additional details were not available at press time.
North Woods was scheduled for tournament action in Hill City on Saturday, followed by a road trip to Cherry on Tuesday.
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