VOLLEYBALL ROUNDUP: Gronner guiding Cards’ future
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
With her father, Jeff, as football coach in Cromwell, Bailey Gronner became the team’s filmmaker as a sixth-grader, working her way up to statistician.
When not on the football field, the 14-year-old is making her own statistics in the gym, as the 5-foot-9 starting setter has become a reliable mainstay player for the Cardinals volleyball team this fall.
Gronner, the only freshman on Cromwell-Wright’s roster, began playing the sport in fifth grade and has quickly shown her young age has nothing to do with being a valuable asset.
“She can dig, set, hit — just go all around,” said senior setter Allie Cahoon, who has helped Gronner adjust to varsity. “We have had a hilly season — ups and downs. We’re a young team, but [Bailey] is good.”
Good enough to play marginal varsity time as an eighth-grader a season ago, Gronner said she’s enjoyed this fall, especially getting to play alongside good friend, Cahoon.
“My first game I was so nervous,” Gronner said, “but it’s good now. I’ve gotten used to it. [Allie] picks me up a lot.”
The Cardinals (5-6) picked up a 25-21, 25-21, 25-21 sweep over Polar League neighbor Barnum last Thursday evening.
There, Gronner, Cahoon and Rachel Hutar were — like most matches — effective, while the trio was efficient in Tuesday’s three-set loss to visiting arch-rival Floodwood.
Gronner’s 12 set assists and nine kills led the team.
“She’s had to step up as a setter, but she’s also become one of our strongest hitters,” said Cromwell-Wright Coach Amy Granholm, who moved from 12-year assistant to head coach this year when Lori Wester stepped down. “She can see the holes, she knows when to tip; she’s been around volleyball for a long time now. For a young girl, Bailey is very impressive.
“She’s busting her butt,” added Granholm, who estimated Gronner recorded 36 kill attempts Tuesday on the Polar Bears.
Also Tuesday, the host Bombers (5-9) rebounded for a five-set win over Silver Bay, adding to Monday’s five-set marathon victory at East Central. Like Cromwell-Wright, Barnum has a new coach, Brooke Anderson. At times, the team is inconsistent.
“We’ve been a little hot and cold,” said Anderson, who starts all seven seniors on an experienced-laden team. “We have a lot of potential. Cromwell just capitalized on some of our mental mistakes. They’re a tough, very scrappy, team.”
A team guided by Gronner, the oldest of four siblings, as well as a state track runner and forward on her dad’s basketball team.
And the football statistician on Friday nights.
“She’s pretty competitive — she gets that from me,” Jeff Gronner said, “but she didn’t have a choice on the doing stats.”
Carlton (17-2) creamed host Two Harbors 25-10, 25-10, 25-8 Tuesday in a Polar League sweep. The Bulldogs, which also won a five-set thriller Monday at Hermantown, were guided by Macy Belich and Grace Macor’s 16 kill-combo Tuesday and 34 Monday.
Cloquet (15-3) cruised by Crosby-Ironton 25-23, 25-5, 25-18 Tuesday at home. The Lumberjacks, winners of 11 straight and the Virginia Invitational title, were boosted by Kassidy Steen’s 10 kills.
Esko (12-6) escaped host Moose Lake-Willow River 24-26, 25-11, 25-16, 19-25, 15-8 Tuesday in a Polar League nail-biter. Hailey Salo and Christaia Houser led the Eskomos with 10 and nine kills.
Fond du Lac Ojibwe (8-1) overpowered Maranatha Academy 24-26, 25-22, 25-7, 25-7 Tuesday in Superior. Jocelyn Sayers, Des LaPointe and Drewrez Budreau totaled 22 ace serves and 16 kills in the Ogichidaa’s eighth consecutive win for the small tribal team.
Moose Lake-Willow River (12-5) relied on Adri Jusczak’s 18 kills, yet lost 26-24, 11-25, 16-25, 25-19, 8-15 to Polar League Esko Tuesday at home. The defeat snapped the Rebels’ five straight wins.
South Ridge (11-6) ran out of gas in a 25-27, 25-14, 21-25, 25-20, 8-15 marathon Tuesday in Culver. Justice Janke tallied 22 kills and 17 digs behind Callie Thomason’s 34 set assists.
Wrenshall (5-9-2) was edged 13-25, 25-22, 25-19, 17-25, 14-16 by Polar League foe Cook County Tuesday. For the much-improved Wrens, headed by Shana Laveau’s seven kills and Delaney Kittel’s 22 digs, it was their first loss at home this season.
FDLTCC (0-9) fields just seven players, as the Thunder try to remain competitive despite staying winless at 0-for-27 in set play.