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Bulldogs roll over Hermantown, Esko

Carlton's Ally Hoeffling makes a kill past Hermantown's Maddy Foster during Monday night's volleyball match.1 / 2
The Carlton volleyball team celebrates their 3-0 sweep of Hermantown following Monday night's volleyball match. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal2 / 2

The Carlton Bulldogs passed a huge late-season test by knocking off both Hermantown and Esko on back-to-back nights this week and improving their record to 19-4. On Monday, the Bulldogs beat Hermantown 3-0 in a match that was tighter than the final score indicated. On Tuesday the talented team turned in another 3-0 win over the Eskomos.

Even though the win over Hermantown was a 3-0 victory, all three games were tight with Carlton winning by scores of 25-23, 27-25 and 25-23.

"We trailed in all three games and had to come back in them to win," said Barb Soukkala, head coach of the Bulldogs. "In the third game we were down 18-10 and came back to win. That is a huge confidence builder for our team."

Not only did the Bulldogs win the match, but they did so on the road against a Hermantown team that is 11-6 and has played a tough schedule.

"At the beginning of the match we were a little tentative at the net and we had to scramble," explained Soukkala. "Once we got things going we had them scrambling."

A big key for the Bulldogs offense this year has been the play of setter Brynne Mickle, who has been solid this season. Mickle did it again against Hermantown with 34 set assists in the match.

"Brynne is our unsung hero," Soukkala said. "She does her job quietly and gets to everything. She runs our offense and never gets rattled and that keeps the rest of the team focused."

Taylor Nelson and Abby Mickle finished with 13 and 12 kills respectively against the Hawks, while Alli Hoeffling patrolled the net with six blocks.

In the 3-0 win against Esko, the Bulldogs won by scores of 25-16, 25-16 and 25-13.

"Esko came out strong in the first game," Soukkala said. "The atmosphere was great. Our team was all dressed in pink in support of a former player's parent who is fighting breast cancer and we raised over $400 for her last night."

Looming on the horizon for the Bulldogs will be a trio of games against tougher competition including Cook County, South Ridge and Moose Lake-Willow River.

"It doesn't get any easier," Soukkala said. "All of those games will be tough for us."