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Prep volleyball: Carlton stops rival Wrenshall in three-set sweep

Senior Madison Asleson paced the Bulldogs with 12 kills in the win.

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Carlton's Eliza DeCaigny passes the ball during the match on Thursday, Sept. 22, vs. Wrenshall at Carlton.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
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CARLTON — The historic rivalry between the Wrenshall and Carlton athletic programs was renewed Thursday, Sept. 22, with a raucous crowd on hand for the Polar League Conference matchup at Carlton High School.

After taking a down-to-the-wire opening set, the Bulldogs kept their foot on the gas pedal in the final two to sweep the Wrens 3-0 (26-24, 25-11, 25-6) and improve to 4-7 on the season.

Carlton coach Barb Soukkala credited the visitors for the energy they brought out of the gate, which pushed her club to the brink of defeat in set one.

“Every team comes out knowing they have to play their best to beat us, and Wrenshall came out flying,” Soukkala said. “They weren’t letting anything hit the floor, and digging everything out the first game. Then they kinda busted their bubble after that when we won that game.”

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Carlton's Jaycee McMillen attacks from the outside during the match on Thursday, Sept. 22, vs. Wrenshall at Carlton.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Though his team fell short in the end, Wrenshall coach John Peterson said it’s always special when the two teams meet on the court.

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“It’s just great because all of these kids are friends with each other,” Peterson said. ”Pretty much all of my girls go to their games any chance they get. They’re always at our games when they get a chance. They play in the summer together. They play other sports together. So it’s more of like a friendly game, if that makes sense.”

In the opening set, the Wrens had the Bulldogs on their heels early on after climbing out to a 9-3 advantage, prompting the home team to take a timeout to regroup. The court remained tilted in favor of Wrenshall down the stretch after a kill by Janae Sjodin gave the Wrens their largest lead at 19-12.

Guided by kills leader Madison Asleson, the Bulldogs stormed back with a momentum-shifting 9-2 run to knot the score up at 21 apiece. After pulling ahead at 23-21 via back-to-back kills by Megan Matarelli, Carlton managed to fend off a late push by Wrenshall to take the set, 26-24.

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Lilly Vanderopool of Wrenshall passes the ball during the match Thursday, Sept. 22, vs. Carlton at Carlton.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Soukkala praised Asleson for her performance in the first set and the match as a whole after leading the Bulldogs in kills with 12, and racking up numerous ace serves along the way.

“Madison did very well tonight. She had a lot of hits. I don’t know how many aces she had, but this is probably the best game she’s played,” Soukkala said. “She’s a big leader out on the floor.”

The confidence generated from their come-from-behind win carried over into the final two sets for the Bulldogs in wins of 25-11 and 25-6 to seal the match.

Carlton will be back on its home court, Saturday, Oct. 1, when the team hosts Hermantown for a 7 p.m. match. The Wrens will travel to Ogilvie for their next matchup scheduled for Monday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.

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Megan Matarelli attacks for Carlton during the match on Thursday, Sept. 22, vs. Wrenshall at Carlton.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal
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Carlton players and fans react after the Bulldogs completed a three-set win over Wrenshall on Thursday, Sept. 22, in Carlton.
Amy Arntson / Cloquet Pine Journal

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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