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Cardinals fly away with win over Bombers

Two young volleyball teams met in Cromwell Tuesday night -- with both the Cardinals and visiting Barnum looking to improve. The Cardinals won 25-17, 25-8, 25-11 to improve to 3-1 on the season and win their third straight match, while the Bombers...

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Cromwell-Wright senior Bailey Gronner makes a kill past Barnum junior Emily Miletich during Tuesday night's volleyball match. The Cardinals won the match in three sets. Dave Harwig/news@pinejournal.com

Two young volleyball teams met in Cromwell Tuesday night - with both the Cardinals and visiting Barnum looking to improve.

The Cardinals won 25-17, 25-8, 25-11 to improve to 3-1 on the season and win their third straight match, while the Bombers continue to rebuild.

“It was satisfying,” Cromwell-Wright coach Amy Granholm said. “We served very well and they had some problems with service receive. We got into our offense and did a nice job.”

Most of the Cromwell-Wright players serve at 88 percent or better, and two of their players - junior Cassidy Anderson and senior captain Bailey Gronner - had six ace serves apiece. Gronner added seven kills and freshman setter Taya Hakamaki had 12 set assists.

“Cassidy knows the offense well but Bailey leads our team,” Granholm added. “She has done a very nice job communicating with the other younger players and helping give them direction on the floor.”

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After losing their opening match against Hill City, the Cardinals have figured things out, to the pleasure and pleasant surprise of their coach.

“After the first game against Hill City I was thinking it might be a difficult process,” Granholm said. “But the girls have improved since then.”

That’s also the case with the Bombers, who are improving under coach Corina Newman.

“We’ve done better since the beginning of the season,” Newman said. “We aren’t up to where the other teams are, but we are doing a lot of rebuilding of the program here in Barnum.”

Newman said that the hardest part of the process is building game knowledge in some of the younger players.

“We have numbers but there are skills that haven’t been taught,” she said. “That can be a little frustrating for kids who want to compete.”

Newman singled out sophomore setter Meghan Liimatainen for special praise. “She has come a long way,” Newman said. “She has shown great improvement since the start of the season. The girls have good attitudes, they don’t give up and learn something every game. As a coach, that’s all you can ask.”

And Newman sees reason to smile.

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“The kids see they are improving,” she said. “Statistically they are getting better. We had 18 service errors in our first match against Wrenshall and only four in our next match (against Cook County).”

“I do have a lot of young girls and one starter (sophomore Mallory Agurkis) who has never played before,” Newman added. “She wants to get it so badly but she has to learn. I believe she will. And with (junior) Megan Lane being out with an ACL injury, we are losing some great leadership out there. But as coaches, right now we are phrasing our feedback to the players so they keep their confidence. We ask them after every match what they have learned.”

Both coaches know their teams face difficult roads ahead. The Cardinals’ next match is against Carlton, with Granholm knowing full well that her team will be tested.

“That will be a tough match,” she said. “But we have a good group of teammates on our team who support each other. We are one unit and a family. We’re going to communicate and root for each other.”

Meanwhile, the Bombers know that the season is a marathon and not a sprint. “You can’t throw too much at them,” Newman said. “You have to learn to play defense before you can play offense and defense wins you games. Every day we work toward the end of our season. I don’t care if we don’t win a game before then. What we work for comes at the end of our season and we won’t ever give up.”

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALLCROMWELL
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