The Carlton Bulldogs were able to overcome a slow start in Tuesday’s volleyball match against South Ridge and prevail in a 3-1 home victory over the Panthers. After falling 18-25 in the opening game, the Bulldogs rallied by winning the next three games 25-19, 25-20 and 25-15 over the feisty Panthers.
“They are a good defensive team and they dug out a lot of hits,” Carlton coach Barb Soukkala said of South Ridge. “We came out making some hitting errors.”
A big reason the Bulldogs struggled in the first game was the fact that the Panthers came out on fire and were in the zone both offensively and defensively.
“We passed well and didn’t let them get into their offense,” said Brad Olesiak, head coach of the Panthers.
After losing the opening game 18-25, the Bulldogs won the all-important second game 25-19, but it didn’t come easy for Carlton.
“We really didn’t get the momentum until the third game,” Soukkala said. “We were lucky to win the second game.”
A huge key to the Bulldogs bouncing back was the fact that they became more aggressive at the net and they were able to stay on task serving the ball against a tough South Ridge squad.
“We started hitting aggressively and getting some good serves,” Soukkala said. “Ally Hoefliner has really been improving and she got some key blocks. Alaina Bennett also had some really nice hits from the middle and Taylor Nelson does a great job defensively for us.”
Bennett finished with 12 kills and Nelson chipped in with 10, while Abby Mickle added eight. Brynne Mickle helped to lead the Carlton offense with 44 set assists.
Marriah Janke had a solid overall game for the Panthers with 15 kills and 15 digs; Lily Price had 21 digs in the back row. Shayna Preston ran the offense with 32 set assists and Celia Olesiak had 25 digs in the loss for South Ridge.
“Carlton is a very solid team and they do everything very well,” Olesiak said. “We ended up being on our heels and they were on the attack.”
The win pushed the Bulldogs’ record to 13-4 on the season. Carlton will play at home on Thursday night against McGregor. The Panthers are now 7-8 on the season and will also play on Thursday when they return home to take on the Moose Lake-Willow River Rebels.