Thunder looks tough, fall shortImproved FDLTCC volleyball team tussles, loses home opener 3-1 to Vermilion
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
CLOQUET — Like a young child putting together a jigsaw puzzle, the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College volleyball team is just about there.
But is still putting the pieces together.
In their home opener Wednesday night, the Thunder battled but fell short in a 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 21-25, 20-25) loss to Minnesota College Athletic Conference foe Vermilion Community College at the Lester Jack Briggs Cultural Center gymnasium on their campus in Cloquet.
FDLTCC’s competitiveness showed early in the opening set, as they rallied in a couple of occasions, but lost. Answering in the second, the Thunder never trailed, but found themselves on the short side in both the third and fourth sets due to service and attack errors, as well as communication blunders.
Making a nifty handful of runs throughout, head coach Loran Wappes – who has been with the program in all three years of its existence – was pleased with his crew’s effort following the loss.
“I’m very satisfied, they played well,” said Wappes, now the head coach after switching roles with former head coach and now assistant Laura Sylvester. “We’re still making too many mistakes and have to become more poised.”
“It was sure a strong start tonight,” said Sylvester, now in her second year with the Thunder. “Hopefully we can pick it up.”
Cloquet’s Rachel Sanda was all over the floor Wednesday, as the sophomore libero picked up 38 digs, while fellow sophomore setter Rita Aspinwall tossed 29 set assists. Sophomore middle hitter Holly Nelson, from Wrenshall, led the Thunder with 15 kills and three blocks as well.
FDLTCC – having won just two of their opening 13 sets – sports an 0-5 record already this fall with losses to Itasca, Gogebic, Anoka-Ramsey and a pair to Vermilion, while they’ve only won two matches in school history, including none a year ago.
But Wappes knows his ladies are much more competitive than in the past and are just about there.
Just like that jigsaw puzzle.
“We’ve never won a conference game,” Wappes said. “We just have to make some more plays. But I’m happy.”
The Thunder will continue their home stand this weekend when they welcome in a pair of MCAC divisional rivals in Hibbing Community College Friday evening at 6:30 p.m., as well as Rainy River Community College Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m.