EVELETH — The Eveleth-Gilbert volleyball team has had a long, busy week but they didn’t let that affect them Thursday night as they cruised past visiting International Falls 3-0 (25-11, 25-20, 25-16).
The Bears came out firing on all cylinders and used a quick five-point run to build up a healthy lead in the first set. A kill from Emily Kemp followed by back-to-back ace serves from Jennie Krause put E-G up 3-0. Joey Westby won a tip point at the net and the Bears added one more to force a Broncos timeout.
Active hands at the net helped the Bears grow their lead with back-to-back tip points and a block from Kemp giving E-G the 8-3 advantage. Up 9-4, Brooke Thyen put down a pair of kills to extend the lead to seven, 11-4.
International Falls took two points back-to-back after that, but a nine point run from the Bears kept them in the driver’s seat. Eveleth-Gilbert just had to keep their heads during the stretch with eight of the nine points ending on International Falls’ errors. McKendrick Landwer ended the run with an ace serve to put her team up 20-4.
Following the Broncos’ second timeout, E-G closed things out in short order with Kemp and Westby putting down more kills before a hitting error from International Falls ended things, 25-11.
Eveleth-Gilbert started strong once again in the second set, racing out to an 11-3 lead with kills from Kemp and multiple aces from Westby setting the tone early. The Broncos battled back, however, with Olivia Thostenson and Kaylynn Cronin finding some kills to stay alive.
Trailing 20-15, a kill from the Broncos’ Izabella Wille made it 20-16, the closest International Falls would make it all set. Two kills from Thyen and another from Westby made it 23-16, forcing a Broncos timeout. Landwer came out of the break and put down an ace to bring E-G a point away from the second set.
The Broncos battled back again, with Thostenson adding a block and another kill to her statline to make it 24-20 but one final error from the Broncos ended the set, 25-20.
The Bears continued to start sets strong as they ran out to a 10-1 lead thanks to Kemp and Westby coming on strong once more. Westby added three more ace serves while Kemp won three straight tip points at the net to secure the early E-G lead.
The Golden Bears never let the Broncos get closer than seven points as more kills from Kemp and even some from Landwer helped seal up the win, 25-16.
In control from start to finish, Eveleth-Gilbert head coach Beth Bittmann said her team came out prepared to play after a long last couple of weeks.
“I just liked the way they played together out there tonight,” Bittmann said. “The serving was on for us and everybody was able to get into the game. It didn’t matter who I put where, we played as a team.
“It’s been hard for the girls to come out fired up when we’re playing so much in such a long week. We’ve had a lot of busy weekends at tournaments as well so it feels like we’ve been dragging our tails a little bit but kudos to them for coming out hard tonight and taking care of business.”
When it comes to using girls in different spots, Bittmann noted the attacking potential of Landwer as well as setter Lauren Lautigar, who have seen increased time on the attacking side of things.
“If we get the opportunity to use our girls in different spots, then I think we should get that experience. You never know if someone is going to be injured or sick and we might need them there for real. So we changed up the lineup a bit and Lauren and McKendrick got to hit in the front and they’ve been playing very well there. If something happens come tournament time, it would be great for us to be ready for a situation like that.”
The Bears will have this weekend off before they battle with Mesabi East on Monday. Eveleth-Gilbert lost to the Giants in the Two Harbors tournament championship. Bittmann says it was a close match so Friday’s practice and a weekend of rest will be key for her girls.
“We need to prepare for Mesabi East. We know it’s going to be a great matchup and we’ll need to close up our blocks a bit if we want to stop them. There’s a few things we’ll need to take care of on that end. Then, Saturday and Sunday they just need to rest up and come prepared on Monday.”
Northeast Range 3,
Hill City 0
At Babbitt, the Northeast Range volleyball team took care of the Hill City Hornets and avoided any unnecessary stings, coming away with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-21, 25-11) Thursday night.
The Nighthawks were led by senior standout Hannah Reichensperger, who put down 20 kills and two blocks to go along with 19 digs. Natalie Nemark finished with eight kills and a block while Erin Backe had six kills and 10 digs. Maizy Sundblad dug up nine balls and put up 37 set assists to her teammates.
Northeast Range will take part in the Mesabi East tournament today before hosting Duluth Marshall on Monday.