MHS spikes pesky Red Robins

The Merrill girls struggled a little with non-conference foe Antigo last Tuesday, but the end result was more than predictable.
The Bluejays pulled out a 3-1 triumph over the Red Robins to improve to 28-1 on the season, good for Honorable Mention in the state rankings.
“The entire team, coaching staff included, is excited about how we’re doing right now,” MHS coach Steph Nelson said. “We expect a lot from ourselves and each other and were disappointed in the way we performed the first two games, but were happy with the last two games. We know what we are able to do so our confidence is high
“(Tuesday) went a little rough for the first two games; we won the first one only 25-23, then we lost the second game 14-25. We weren’t talking, we were just playing as individuals on the court.
“When we lost the second game, it really grounded us. We came into the match a little over-confident. That second game showed us that we need to play our best no matter who we’re playing. They cleaned up, and started playing as a tightly knit group and that’s when they started winning again.
“The third and fourth games went much better; we started communicating better, playing better defense and getting better passes off the serve, but most of all, we played as one. Each person stepped up and played well in the last two.”
“Tonight was also our ‘Pfundraiser’ for the Sally Pfund Memorial Scholarship, so it meant a lot to go out there and play well and get the win.”
Pfund was the Bluejays’ previous head coach and head of the Northern Pride volleyball club until she suffered a stroke and died late in the 2009 season.
“All the girls who played under Sally take every game to heart,” Nelson said. “They always seem to revert back to thinking, ‘Would Sally be happy with how we’re playing?’ So was the game important? Yes, but no more important than any other game. They want to go to state this year and each game is a stepping stone to getting there.”
In last Tuesday’s match, the Bluejays followed up that initial two-game split with a pair of 25-10 triumphs to put the Red Robins away. The Game 2 loss was just the second game dropped by Merrill in its last dozen matches.
Merrill contributions came from: Renee Sladek (16 kills, 5 digs, 4 blocks); Jess Sabey (12 k, 14 d); Lindsay Krueger (3 k, 35 assists, 7 d); Kaylin Byer (17 d); Reegan Byer (11 d); Lauren Hojan (7 k); and Aubrey Wardall (3 k, 2 bl).

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