Rangers hang tough, down Spartans, 3-2

Mountain Iron-Buhl's Gabby Lira battles Nashwauk-Keewatin's Adeline Gangle during the second set of Tuesday night's game in Mountain Iron.

MOUNTAIN IRON — The Mountain Iron-Buhl volleyball team is finding ways to win in five sets this season, defeating Nashwauk-Keewatin 3-2 (26-24, 17-25, 25-22, 14-25, 15-12) Tuesday night to pick up their second five-set win of the season already.

First-year head coach Patty Overbye noted the fight in her team after the win and was proud of the way they finished against the Spartans.

“These girls kept their heads up,” Overbye said. “This is a group of girls that know how to win and I just kept telling them positive thoughts. That’s what they really needed. They needed to push it and they fought for the win tonight. I’m really proud of them. They’re a good team and they found a way to pull it off.”

Both squads found themselves in a battle in the first set with both squads throwing up their fair share of errors early on. More fell in favor of the Spartans, however, as they ran out to an early 11-4 lead.

Mountain Iron-Buhl slowly began chipping away at the lead with Desi Milton starting things off with a kill to make it 11-5. A tip from the Rangers’ Hali Savela later made it 14-10 N-K. Savela’s serving helped get things closer with an ace from her, followed by a kill from Sam Hoff making it 15-13 Spartans.

N-K didn’t let up with kills from Jocelyn Maki and Claire Clusiau helping spread the lead back out, 18-14. The two teams kept trading points back and forth before the Spartans found themselves two points away from the set, 23-20.

MI-B didn’t quit as a kill from Gabby Lira, an N-K error and an ace from Lira knotted things up at 23. The two teams tied again at 24 before the Rangers took the most important lead of the set and closed things out with a kill from Sage Ganyo and another ace from Savela, 26-24.

The Rangers had a wake-up call in the second set as N-K junior Adeline Gangl began to find her groove at the net. Gangl had two early kills in the second set to keep N-K alive as she quickly become their go-to attacker. MI-B kept an early lead with Hoff and Jacie Kvas putting down kills to make it 9-4, but the Spartans fought back and eventually went on a long run to help take the second.

Trailing 14-11, N-K rallied for 12 straight points to take the 23-14 late lead. In the stretch, Gangl stayed active with kills and tip points while Kaydince Thoennes chipped in with a kill and Alexia Carroll served up two aces.

A tip from Savela started a short 3-0 run for the Rangers, but Gangl and the Spartans were able to close out the second easily, 25-17.

The third was another tight battle, similar to the first. As the game wore on, the Spartans chose to go to Gangl more often while the Rangers attack stayed varied. The two teams found themselves tied at 3, 4, 14 and 16 before MI-B managed to put some distance between the two teams.

A kill from Kvas put MI-B back in front while a Hoff scored two in a row later on a tip ball anda kill to make it 22-19 Rangers. Gabby Lira got into the action at the end, swinging hard for the Rangers final two points to take the set, 25-22.

MI-B’s struggles reemerged in the fourth set with the Spartans taking control with strong serving across their lineup. The strong serving combined with Gangl’s hit for kills and blocks made the fourth set a runaway with N-K taking it 25-14 to set up a fifth and final set to 15.

Down 4-3, the Spartans went on a small run to take a lead with Clusiau serving up an ace to knot things up before Gangl put down a pair of kills to make it 6-4 N-K. But another kill from Lira and a hitting error from N-K knotted things up again at six.

Tied again at seven, an ace from Maleah MIlton put MI-B on top while forcing N-K to use a timeout. The Spartans tied things up at eight again but continued to give up points on errors, giving MI-B the 10-8 lead late.

Nashwauk-Keewatin took advantage of a Rangers’ hitting error and then got a kill from Jazlynn Svaleson to knot things up. A back-and-forth 21st point in the set ultimately came down to hustle as the Rangers dug up some awkward balls and gave the Spartans an awkward looking ball of their own in return. N-K couldn’t keep the point alive with the Rangers going up 11-10.

An ace from Hoff forced another Spartan timeout and another Spartan error gave the Rangers the 13-10 lead, two points from the win.

A kill from N-K’s Samantha Woodman and another from Gangl made it a one-point contest, but MI-B but things away after going up 14-12. Lira put down the final spike for the Rangers to give them set 5 15-12 and the match 3-2.

A back and forth contest from start to finish, Overbye mentioned her team’s serve receive was a big issue in the second and fourth sets, giving way to the Spartans time and time again.

“Our serve receive was struggling. We just needed a good pass to our setter and then have one of our girls just hit it down. But we struggled with it at times and the serve receive really got to us those two games.”

Earning the win, Overbye complimented her young squad for not having any quit in them and mentioned the leadership of her two seniors in Jacie Kvas and Maleah Milton.

“They just have that feeling,” Overbye said of their leadership. “They don’t really have to say much. They’re quiet seniors but you can tell when those two get serious and the whole team follows them and gets serious too. They just have to look at the team and everyone knows what they have to do to get the job done.”

Bolstered by plenty of sophomores and juniors, Overbye said seeing the younger players come up big in tight situations is what fuels the team.

“The girls get piped up and excited when they see kills like that. That’s what they really need. They’re not emotional people but when they kill it, they get excited and that’s what we needed. Gabby’s kill to end things for us was perfect to end the game for us.”

Picking up their second five-set win, Overbye commended her team’s competitiveness in those matches and from the beginning of the season at practice.

“They just know how to fight. They have it in them. We were struggling but they picked it up. I’m just proud of them. As a first-year coach, they’ve shown me a lot in the last couple weeks and I know they’re not going to quit. They’re going to keep pushing and finding ways to win.”

MI-B (2-1) will travel to Northeast Range on Thursday. Nashwauk-Keewatin will travel to Deer River that same night.

Mesabi East 3,

International Falls 0

At International Falls, the Mesabi East volleyball team kept up their winning ways with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-8, 25-16) sweep of International Falls Tuesday night.

Lindsey Baribeau led the offense with 10 kills to go along with her three ace serves and five blocks. Kora Forsline finished with nine kills and six digs. Allie Lamppa set up 28 set assists and added 10 digs. Alexa Fossell finished with three aces and 10 digs. Kaitlynn James tallied three ace serves and nine digs and Maija Hill finished with five kills.

Giants head coach Sara Baribeau praised her team’s effort on serve receive, helping set up the win.

“Tonight we had good control on serve receive which really set up our offense,” Baribeau said. “We have been working hard on defense at practice and tonight the girls executed the skills we worked on well.”

Mesabi East (3-1) will travel to North Woods on Thursday.

North Woods 3,

Bigfork 0

At Cook, the North Woods volleyball team picked up a win on their home court, sweeping 3-0 (27-25, 25-9, 25-14) past visiting Bigfork Tuesday night.

The Grizzlies were led at the net by Skyler Yernatich, putting down a team-high 10 kills to go along with eight digs and four aces. Tori Olson added nine kills and an ace serve.

Morgan Burnett led on the floor with 21 set assists to go with two kills and an ace. Addy Hartway chipped in with three kills, four digs and an ace.

North Woods (1-2) will host Mesabi East on Thursday.

Ely 3,

Littlefork-Big Falls 0

At Littlefork, the Ely volleyball team moved to 2-0 on the season with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-9, 25-20) sweep of Littlefork-Big Falls.

The Timberwolves used a varied offensive attack to get the job done with Kate Coughlin and Rachel Coughlin leading with nine kills each. Kate added six digs and three aces while Rachel added five digs. Kellen Thomas chipped in with seven kills.

Katrina Seliskar commanded the floor with 29 set assists, 10 digs and four aces. Courtney Eilrich added three aces and Annikka Mattson finished with 10 digs and five aces.

Ely head coach Megan Wognum said her team needed some time to find it’s groove Tuesday, but it was smooth sailing after that.

“We struggled with finding a rhythm in the first set but then started to locate some of their weaknesses and used those to our advantage,” Wognum said. “I was really impressed with our digs. We worked hard on our passing this game and it was nice to see that improve.”

Ely (2-0) will travel to Cherry on Thursday.


Grand Rapids 5,

Mesabi East Area 0

At Grand Rapids, the Mesabi East Area girls’ soccer team was held scoreless in a 5-0 loss to hosting Grand Rapids.

No further information was available.


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