V-Ball finishes strong at WVC meet, blanks Rapids
Success has been a habit for the Bluejay varsity volleyball team thus far this season and lately they have shown no signs of breaking that habit. Especially last Thursday, Sept. 26 when the ladies sent the Wisconsin Rapids-Lincoln Raiders packing, in the wake of a 3-0 shutout win.
The Jays wasted no time in getting to work, hammering out a 25-17 win in the first set, then followed suit 25-14, 25-23 to close out the night.
Senior Ellie Hartson (8 kills) and junior Kelly Page (6 kills) led the offensive charge for Merrill, along with seniors Reese Mrachek and Eve Akey tying with 5, respectively. Mrachek (3 blocks) and Hartson (14 digs) came up big defensively as well Thursday night, as did Rachel Travis (12 digs) and Hannah Losee (10 digs), respectively.
“We have been working on not giving up runs of three, four, or five and trying to play with intensity for longer periods of time,” comments head coach Kris Krug.
“Rapids was scrappy, they have a few good hitters and blockers. However, we did pretty good with tipping coverage and tooling off of the block. We still have to work on our communication and not giving up easy points. The little things will make a big difference in the end.”
Ladies finish 2-1 at Conference meet
Saturday Sept. 21 was the first ‘Clash of the Titans’ of the year-otherwise known as the Wisconsin Valley Conference meet-hosted by Marshfield. The Jays would go on to pull off a strong 2-1 finish after squaring off with 2 of the conference’s perennial v-ball powerhouses in Stevens Point and Marshfield.
The SPASH bout would prove to be a close one for the Jays. The Panthers are not only the defending conference champs but are currently prowling at the top of the conference at 5-1 on the year. But the Jays have yet to show a tendency to back down from adversity this season and that certainly didn’t change on Saturday. SPASH may have come out on top 3-1, but they by no means ran away with those wins.
The first set came down to a matter of four points (25-21) and the second was even closer (25-23). The Jays came up big with a decisive 25-17 win in the third, but unfortunately SPASH would run the court in the final set to seal it up 25-19.
After making quick work of Wausau-East (25-19, 25-21, 25-17) in their second duel of the day, the final match-up would pit Merrill versus the homecourt Tigers.
Similar to the SPASH bout, the clash with the Tigers would prove to be a tooth and nail fight to the finish. When the court finally fell quiet and the white leather lay idle; the Jays would stand victorious 3-2.
Merrill once again got the jump on their opponent, taking set-one 25-17 and countering with another supercharged performance in set 2, claiming the 25-19 win. The Tigers finally found an answer in set three, holding off Merrill for the 25-20 win. The fourth set proved to be decisive for Marshfield (25-16) and tied the game up at 2-2-. Set-five would prove to be all blue and white though, as the ladies collared the cats 15-7 to finish the day.
“I was happy that we finished 2-1 just not satisfied with our level of play,” Krug adds.
“We were so inconsistent against SPASH but we did show signs of grit when we closed a 11 point deficit and then only to lose the set by 2 points. Our match against Wausau East was solid holding Taylor Pagel to 11 kils and 0 ace serves. We finished the day with a drawn out match again Marshfield. After being up 2-0 we let them back into the match with several mental mistakes and hitting errors. Our veteran player Reese Mrachek played aggressively at the net and Kelly Page contributed with 35 kills on the outside. “
The Bluejays currently stand at 21-10 overall and third in the conference (4-2) behind Stevens Point and Wausau-West (4-1).
Editor’s Note: In this week’s print publication, Volleyball was mistakenly reported to be scheduled to play Eau Claire-North on Thursday evening, Oct. 3. The Bluejays actually competed vs Eau Claire-North last night, Tuesday, Oct. 1 and shut out the Huskies 3-0. We apologize for any confusion this mistake may have caused. Check back here at MerrillFotoNews.com for a recap of Tuesday’s non-conference victory.