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Esko's Molly Trapp and Carlton's Brianna Walton battle for a 50/50 ball at the net Thursday night in Esko. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal Find more photos at

Volleyball Roundup...News about Esko, Carlton and other area teams

sports Cloquet,Minnesota 55720
Pine Journal
Volleyball Roundup...News about Esko, Carlton and other area teams
Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

As tall as Molly Trapp is at 6-foot-5, nothing has been bigger than the Esko volleyball player's recent effectiveness.

The towering middle hitter spiked the winning kill in Esko's 28-26, 21-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-13 marathon prep volleyball victory over neighboring Polar League rival Carlton before a crowded gymnasium last Thursday in Esko.

Trapp's winning hit was a controversial one, landing either on the left sideline or a about a foot wide of the stripe.

"That's the line judge's call," recalled Trapp of the play.

One thing certain is the improved play of Trapp. Beginning her favorite sport in seventh grade, the high school junior had a slow start to her first major varsity season this fall, but has been vital in Esko's latest stretch of four consecutive wins.

"It's taken me a while to make the transition, but I think I'm starting to get the hang of it," admitted Trapp, who is being recruited by several Division I universities, including Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas and UCLA (where her 6-foot-9 sister, Savanna, is playing basketball this season).

Molly said her immense height -- which she "loves" -- gives her the advantage of seeing over the top of defenses, while Esko Coach Desiree DeLeon noted her skyscraper center-of-the-net player also attacks and blocks.

"I've had tall teams, but nothing like that," DeLeon said. "We want to get Molly the ball a foot over the net -- most can't reach that high. She's just really starting to blossom for us the last three or four games. She's really stepping up."

That was most evident last Thursday when her team-high 19 kills and 11 blocks led Esko (14-6) back in an opening set win, a third-set rally and eventually her final kill in the fifth.

"It was cool to watch her light up," added senior middle hitter Christaia Houser, who had 12 kills and 12 blocks. "It was a huge win for us."

Meanwhile, Carlton Coach Barb Soukkala said the loss stung for her young -- yet very successful -- Bulldogs (20-5), who start three juniors and three sophomores each night.

"You hope they feel bad after a big match like that," said Soukkala, whose team was led by Grace Macor's 20 kills and 17 digs, and Macy Belich's 12 kills and 24 digs. "They love to play. They just kind of lost a step in their game."

The five-set win was Esko's 43rd straight within the Polar League, virtually locking up another conference title.

"We've struggled," DeLeon said. "Things hadn't clicked until Carlton. We were mentally tough. We buckled down."