Prep volleyball: 'Jacks bounce back in sweep of Princeton
Cloquet (19-5) returned to the win column after a pair of tough losses to Superior and Cromwell-Wright last week.
CLOQUET — Ava Carlson’s double-double performance featuring a match-best 13 kills highlighted a resounding straight-sets victory (25-17, 25-11, 25-13) for the Lumberjacks over Section 7AAA foe Princeton, Tuesday, Oct. 11 at Cloquet Middle School.
The win was an important bounce-back effort after suffering a pair of tough losses at the hands of Superior and Cromwell-Wright this past week, according to Cloquet coach Heidi Anderson.
“We’ve been challenged in a couple of our matches lately and had a couple of recent losses so I think it was just how do you respond to that,” Anderson said…”I thought we did a good job tonight of scoring kills and serving aggressively and earning points that way, and not just waiting for the other team to make mistakes.”
Carlson said the team was eager to get back on the court Tuesday after the disappointing stretch.
“I think that we were just buying in in practice a little bit more, and just knowing that that wasn’t a good feeling, so we just wanted to come out and play hard,” Carlson said.
The extra motivation was evident in the opening points of the first set as hitters Aili Buytaert, Blythe Proulx, and setter Carly Johnson recorded emphatic kills to put the ‘Jacks ahead 8-2 with the court tilted heavily in their favor.
The upset-minded Tigers pushed back and came within three points of tying the set down the stretch at 18-15 before Cloquet stormed back to take seven of the next nine points in a 25-17 final.
The final two victories for the Lumberjacks came in runaway fashion thanks to dominant runs at the service line from Lexi Niemi and Buytaert.
Niemi guided Cloquet to an early 6-0 lead in set two while racking up two ace serves in the process. Buytaert, who led the team with five ace serves, followed suit with a 12-point scoring spree later on in the set to eliminate any hope of a Princeton comeback.
“Aili had a couple of really nice stretches early on in the match that put (us) ahead and kind of just allowed us to play freely and with a lot of confidence (of) just getting a big lead early on and taking the other team out of their offense,” Anderson said.
Cloquet went on to take the second set 25-11 and kept its foot on the gas in set three with a match-clinching 25-13 victory.
The Lumberjacks have two matches left on their regular season schedule beginning with a road trip to projected No. 1 seed in Section 7AAA Grand Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 13 before returning home to take on Hermantown on Tuesday, Oct. 18.