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Prep volleyball: Esko sweeps Barnum in Polar League clash

The Eskomos improved to 4-0 against conference opponents with the win and remain alone at the top of the standings.

Hitter goes up for spike
Esko's Kyra Johnson goes up for a kill as Aili Lund and Reagen Warnygora of Barnum try to block it during a match on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Barnum High School.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal
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BARNUM — Polar League front-runners Esko (8-2) strengthened their lead in the conference standings with a straight-set sweep (25-11, 25-8, 25-15) of the Bombers (2-3) Thursday, Sept. 15, at Barnum High School.

The Eskomos improved to 4-0 against conference opponents with the victory, and have now won seven of their last eight matches.

Coach Pete Stasiuk attributed the team’s recent success to their firepower up front.

“We’ve got a pretty big, well-balanced offense right now and we’re serving tough and getting teams out of system,” Stasiuk said. “We get easy balls on our side and we get right into our offense. When our offense is clicking, we’re pretty tough to stop.”

The Bombers drop to 2-2 in Polar League Conference play with the loss. In spite of the end result, coach Corina Newman remains optimistic about the prospects of her team as her young players gain more experience.

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“I just keep reminding myself we have a young team and we’re building with only two seniors … I’ve got a group of girls that have never seen a varsity court so they’re getting better every game. By the end of the season they’re going to be very competitive,” Newman said.

Player sets the ball
Barnum's Janaya Jurek sets the ball during a match against Esko on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Barnum High School.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

In the early goings of set one, the Bombers managed to keep pace with the Eskomos as the two teams traded leads four times before the visitors began to pull away after taking a 7-6 lead.

Senior Kaitlin Lattner’s scoring streak at the service line put Esko in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the set en route to outsourcing the Bombers 18-5 in a 25-11 victory.

Lattner went on to lead her club in set assists for the match with 11. On the receiving end of many of Lattner's sets was Kyra Johnson, who paced the Eskomos in kills with 12.

While the offense was firing on all cylinders throughout the match for Esko, Stasiuk pointed to the team’s performance on defense, led by digs leaders Lizzie Hartlieb (13), Bailey Plante (six) and Cassie Stark (six), as the most encouraging part of their performance.

Hitter blocks spike
Kallie Sinnott of Esko blocks a kill attempt by Ivy Polecheck of Barnum during a match on Thursday, Sept. 15, at Barnum High School.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

“I think we did a nice job defensively. Floor defense has kind of been our weakness all year, but we really did a nice job today,” Stasiuk said. “There’s a few things we still need to work on, but I don’t remember too many kills that they got.”

Barnum sophomore Makayla Sheff got her team off to a positive start out of the gate with an ace serve to begin the second set. The Eskomos, much like their effort in the opening set, seized momentum shortly after and carried the play with a dominant 9-0 run down the stretch to take a 2-0 lead in a 25-8 final.

The visitors sealed the match in the third and final set with a 25-15 triumph after bouncing back from an early, slim deficit before forging ahead with a 10-2 run that helped carry them to match-point.

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The Eskomos will look to keep their impressive streak alive in their next match against South Ridge at home, Thursday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. The Bombers will take on Silver Bay on their home court, Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.

Related Topics: ESKO ESKOMOSBARNUM BOMBERS
Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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