FIELD TWP- It’s been a roller coaster season for the North Woods Grizzlies volleyball lineup, but with everyone back and healthy, the team is rounding back into form, scoring a senior night win …
FIELD TWP- It’s been a roller coaster season for the North Woods Grizzlies volleyball lineup, but with everyone back and healthy, the team is rounding back into form, scoring a senior night win over Nashwauk-Keewatin on Monday and a solid 2-2 outing at last weekend’s Mesabi East tournament.
Grizzlies senior players Morgan Burnett, Abbigail Shuster and Olivia Udovich and senior manager Haley Bogdan were honored before the start of Tuesday’s home match against the Spartans, and all three players figured in the Grizzlies’ decisive 3-0 win.
Serves were pivotal for the Grizzlies in their 25-20 victory in the first game. Falling behind at the outset, aces from Shuster and Burnett gave the Grizzlies a lead they wouldn’t relinquish at 5-4. North Woods pulled ahead 15-9, but the Spartans rallied with a chance to tie the game at 17. Addy Hartway kept that from happening with a kill, and a service ace from Udovich gave the Grizzlies a 20-17 edge. Shuster served up another ace in her final two serves to close out the win.
“We’ve been working on a new rotation and just doing some slight tweaks, and the tweaks have really started to solidify,” Grizzlies Head Coach Kandi Olson said. “It’s given us a chance to do some different things in our offense as well.”
That played out in games two and three, ones the Grizzlies won by identical scores of 25-14. While serves remained a strength, North Woods came together on defense, in their passing game, and in scoring from both ends of the net and in the middle.
Skyler Yernatich, Tori Olson, and Shuster all picked up big kills as the Grizzlies bolted to a 12-7 lead in the second game. Talise Goodsky rotated into the game at server and sparked a four-point run for a 16-7 lead. North Woods has thrived numerous times this season when Burnett steps to the service line, and that was the case with the Grizzlies leading 19-13. The Spartans struggled to handle her fast-paced, diving serves, giving up a couple of aces and setting up easy kills for Shuster and Hannah Kinsey. After a kill shot that sailed long passed the serve back to the Spartans, Kinsey put an end to the game with a kill down the middle.
Burnett, Goodsky, and Hartway all had productive rotations at serve in the third game as a clearly confident Grizzlies squad was firing on all cylinders, building a commanding 18-6 lead en route to the 25-14 win that sealed the match.
Olson was particularly pleased for the seniors that everything came together so well on their night.
“It was so fun to see the seniors play the way they did,” she said. “They stepped up and played in some different positions. They’ve been here building key parts of our team throughout the last three years and it’s been amazing to have them with us. We’re desperately going to miss them.”
Mesabi East tourney
The Oct. 9 tournament at Mesabi East provided the Grizzlies with an opportunity for a bit of revenge and a glimpse at their potential as they split their matches 2-2.
Northeast Range had blanked the Grizzlies 3-0 earlier in the season, but this time North Woods flipped the script and avenged that loss by dispatching the Nighthawks in two strong games, 25-17 and 25-18.
“We just had to play our roles really well, and we had the right defense up there at the right times,” Olson said. “When Hannah (Reichensperger) was rolling through we had the right people in the right places and people were digging like crazy.”
The Grizzlies picked up their other match win against Wrenshall, cruising in the first game 25-4 and controlling the second 25-21.
But it was a loss in identical 25-17 games to section-leading Barnum that gave the Grizzlies an inkling that they’re rounding into a team that can match up against strong competition.
The Grizzlies lost their other match to Chisholm, but will have a chance to get that one back when they travel to Chisholm on Monday, Oct. 18 for their final regular season match.
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