’Jacks volleyball drops season openerThe Cloquet volleyball team drew one of its toughest assignments of the season in its opening match on Tuesday night – and the young ’Jacks fell in three straight games at Duluth East.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The Cloquet volleyball team drew one of its toughest assignments of the season in its opening match on Tuesday night – and the young ’Jacks fell in three straight games at Duluth East.
Match scores were 25-18, 25-16 and 25-13. Jenna and Abbie Anderson, two of the team’s three seniors, led the way with 12 digs apiece while sophomore outside hitter Sami Westendorf had 10 digs and five kills.
“We had a hard time stopping East’s big outside hitters,” Coach Heidi Anderson said. “We played right with them in the first game but I do think we have to want it a little more. We had a lot of young kids getting their first varsity action but we had a talk after the match about stepping up and not making excuses.”
Mandy Kurosky had 17 kills and four blocks to lead East.
“We had trouble putting the ball down,” Anderson said, “and they dug up a lot of what we sent over the net. We need to admit where we need to improve and then do it.”
The Andersons join middle hitter Kristi Wappes as the team’s three seniors. Wappes is the fourth member of her family to play varsity volleyball at Cloquet.
“The girls have been working really hard,” Anderson said. “We’re working on a lot of fundamentals and it’s said that you have to win the serve and receive battle to be successful, so we are working on those two fundamentals. It’s taking us a bit longer to get into some of the fun and fancy stuff you can do in volleyball, but we are building a foundation.”
The team is trying to replace graduated senior hitters Emily Fossen and Maddie Kiehn. The latter set school records for games played and kills.
“We’re trying to find out who our go-to players and big hitters are,” Anderson said. “We lost much of our offensive power but that means we have a lot of returning players coming back as well, even though most of them didn’t play full rotations last year.”
The team has 28 players out in grades 9-12, lower numbers than normal after a decision not to have middle school players try out for the high school team.
“We want kids playing more at their age level to build success and confidence,” Anderson said. “I think we have some kids who are really enjoying playing volleyball, but we’re trying to find the right chemistry and combinations. We have a little depth – we want people to know that you can’t get too comfortable in your spot in practice because people will be pushing for that position.”
The team has its home opener on Thursday night against Barnum.
“We’re looking forward to playing again and correcting any mistakes that we made against East,” Anderson said.