Bluejay volleyball falls in regional finals
In a battle to advance to the WIAA Sectional meet, the Merrill volleyball team hosted the Hudson Raiders on Saturday night, Oct. 26, for the WIAA Divison 1 Regional Final. Both teams were flying around the court in the shootout, however Hudson would come out victorious in four sets (3-1).
The first set saw Merrill jump out to a big 22-13 lead, but in a blink of an eye that lead was gone and Hudson would take the set by a final score of 25-23. Merrill wasted no time evening the score, as they would be on the winning side of another tight set by a score of 25-22. The Jays would have a little slip in the third set, as Hudson won the set 25-17. A 25-22 fourth set victory for the Raiders would send the Jays packing, with Hudson eliminating Merrill from the playoffs.
Going into this match, I felt we were evenly matched,” said Merrill head coach Kris Krug. “We had really long volleys and went point for point. At one point we were up 22-13 in the first set. However, all of a sudden we got in a funk and we couldn’t get out of it. We are our own worst enemy when we play safe. We started every game out strong, which is unlike us. Our serving was tough, missing only four serves all night.”
According to coach Krug, the Hudson middle hitter was just too much to handle for the Jays.
“We were unable to stop their middle attack” addded Krug. “They scored a lot of point with her, we hadn’t seen that kind of hit all season and we just couldn’t stop it. In the end, it’s disappointing because I know are the same caliber team. We didn’t give up, I’m so proud of the way we fought until the end – we just didn’t come out on top.”
In their last volleyball game of their high school careers, the Merrill seniors gave it their all. Reese Mrachek ended her night with 12 kills, three blocks and four digs. Ellie Hartson dished the ball out all night, totaling 25 assists to go with four kills and 17 digs. Junior standout Kelly Page led the offensive attack for the Jays, totaling 15 kills and nine assists, while also coming away with 15 digs. Rachel Travis (Jr.) had a stellar night defensivly, totaling 41 digs, while also leading the team in serving at 100% with 20 attempts.
The Bluejays finish the season with an overall record of 27-14 including a conference record of 9-3.
Jays trump Evergreens
On Thursday night, Oct. 24, the Bluejay volleyball team would face off with D.C. Everest in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 Regional Playoffs. No stranger to each other, the conference foes would exchange blows, however Merrill would come out on top with a 3-1 win.
“At this time of the season nobody wants to go home,” said Merrill head coach Kris Krug. “You never know what kind of match it’s going to be because every team is here to win. That’s what’s exciting about post season – anybody can pull off an upset. Even though we played DCE twice and beat them I knew they were going to come out playing to win.”
The Jays would come out of the gates slow in the first set, as Everest took an early 10-4 advantage. The Jays would rally however, as they came back to top the Evergreens 25-20. The second set saw the Jays come out even slower. Everest jumped out to a quick 12-3 lead, and were able to hold on this time around in a 25-12 win. From that point on it was pure domination from the Bluejays, who topped the Evergreens 25-15 in the third set and shut the door with a 25-10 fourth set victory.
“There was no picking up the pieces in set two,” added Krug. “I felt like the rest of the night, we controlled the match. Our lulls were shorter and we got out faster. Tonight Reese made a big difference in the momentum swing. She was hitting big and controlling the net defensively. Another big contributor was our aggressive serving. We didn’t miss any serves set three and four.”
Ellie Hartson had a nice night for the Jays, leading the team with 12 kills. Hartson also totaled nine digs and 25 assists. Reese Mrachek and Kelly Page did good work at the front of the net , with each of them totaling 10 kills in the game. Rachel Travis led the team in digs with 33, while Page was right behind with 16 respecivly.