Lumberjacks whack MarshallCloquet’s sluggish start turns into swift 3-0 sweep of Hilltoppers
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
With her team facing game point trailing Marshall School 24-22 in the opening set, Cloquet volleyball head coach Heidi Anderson burned a timeout to shift the momentum.
Breaking their huddle, the Lumberjacks went on to score the next four points en route to a pivotal 26-24 first set win, as they later went on to sweep the host Hilltoppers 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-19) in a Lake Superior Conference bout Thursday night in Duluth.
“We felt good about being able to pull that one off,” Anderson said about the opening frame afterward.
The tight beginning started much in part because Cloquet (7-5) was getting familiarized with their new two-setter offensive game plan. Usually accustomed to just one setter, Anderson said things started slow.
“We changed up our offense and were looking at some options,” she said. “It took us some time, but then we got comfortable.”
Cloquet breezed by Marshall (2-9) in the following two sets, as they snapped their previous two-match losing streak and got back on the saddle.
Guided by their well-rounded attack, the defending LSC champion Lumberjacks looked to regain some balance Thursday night according to their coach.
“We’ve struggled with our passing and defense this year,” Anderson noted, “but it looked a lot better against Marshall tonight. As a team we’re getting stronger. We just have to continue winning and see what everyone else does.”
Despite suffering an ankle sprain during warm-ups, Cloquet senior middle hitter Emily Fossen played all night, contributing when she could. Alongside Fossen was fellow senior outside hitter Maddie Kiehn, who recorded a team-best 14 kills and nine digs.
Dual freshmen setters Sami Westendorf and Alex Oakes were also effective in the win, as Westendorf tossed 15 set assists and had 13 digs, while Oakes notched 14 assists and 10 diggers. Sophomore middle hitter Olivia Mayasich posted five kills and team-leading three ace serves in the sweep.
Next up for the Lumberjacks will be a non-conference tilt with neighboring and talented Esko (10-1) Monday night at 7 p.m. at Cloquet High School. The match will be played, despite a basketball hoop that was formerly in the way of the playing surface.
“It’s up and out of the way,” said Anderson about the hoop with a chuckle. “It’ll be nice to play Esko. It’ll be a good test to see where we’re at in our section.”