Consistency key for Cloquet in sweep of EastOn Tuesday, the Lumberjacks routed Duluth East in three games (25-18, 25-21, 25-21), defeating the Greyhounds for the first time since 2007. The season-opening victory showed a glimpse of what to look for from Cloquet this season.
By: Brady Slater, Pine Journal
In one small respect, 2013 is already a success for the Cloquet High School volleyball team.
On Tuesday, the Lumberjacks routed Duluth East in three games (25-18, 25-21, 25-21), defeating the Greyhounds for the first time since 2007. The season-opening victory showed a glimpse of what to look for from Cloquet this season. Unless, of course, you ask Coach Heidi Anderson, who afterward revealed a bit of the tumult a coach can be forced to contend with at a moment’s notice.
“It’s not what I’d expect us to look like,” said Anderson, who lamented the loss of outside hitter Hazel Erickson, a sophomore who rolled her ankle in the waning seconds of warm-ups, limiting her to brief backcourt duty. “There was a lot of scrambling tonight after Hazel went down. There were some nerves, too. We have a lot of experience, but we had players playing in different places.”
The Lumberjacks did a good job of hiding those nerves, coming from behind in each of the match’s three games.
The source of their composure? Senior Olivia Mayasich. The 6-foot-1 Mayasich, with her team down 14-8 in Game 2, tipped a winner over the defense then served her team back into the game to 14-13. From there, the Lumberjacks took over.
Like an ace pitcher in baseball who can halt a four-game slide by dominating on the mound on Day 5, Mayasich looks like a classic stopper, always there when her team needs her. She finished with a team-high seven kills and two blocks.
“I try really hard to do everything I can to bring the team back if we’re down or to keep us going if we’re ahead,” Mayasich said. “But there are a lot of people who can bring this team together.”
There’s fellow 6-footer Kassidy Steen, a sophomore with seven kills and two blocks against East. She’s a home run swatter in softball and a force in the middle in volleyball. There’s Alexandra Oakes (five kills, 14 set assists), entering her fourth year as a starter and only a junior. There’s junior Samantha Westendorf (15 set assists, eight digs, five kills) and junior libero Katie Zezulka — two “glue gals,” who look capable of doing whatever-whenever-however.
“There are some good all-around athletes on this team,” said assistant coach Tyler Korby.
Against East, the Lumberjacks faced a scholarship-type player in the intimidating hitter Mandy Kurosky, whose 11 kills led the match, but whose multiple net serves cost the Greyhounds critical momentum at key points in the match.
Consistency, for Cloquet, was on its side.
After the game, Coach Anderson acknowledged as much.
“I am proud of them for digging themselves out of the holes they were in,” she said. “We kept our composure.”
That’s what it took to beat the Greyhounds for the first time in five years. How well they keep that composure will likely determine the fate of their season. That, and a healthy return of one sprained ankle.