Wolves sweep Raiders
ROUND LAKE -- Displaying exceptional balance at the net, Harris-Lake Park remained undefeated in high school volleyball, as the Wolves defeated across-the-border rival Round Lake-Brewster (0-4) in three straight games Saturday afternoon.
Game scores were 25-12, 25-18 and 25-12.
"Our girls played their roles very well this afternoon," declared H-LP head coach Daryl Meyer after the match. "I loved how we attacked the ball and how he worked together on defense, keeping the ball in play."
The Wolves, who entered the contest having won three straight matches in Iowa to start the season, were dominant at the net, smacking spike kills from angles.
"They played the net tough," said RL-B head coach Tammy Roos about the Wolves. "I thought they really played as a team."
A tip kill by H-LP sophomore Christine Larson opened the scoring in Game 1, and after a pair of Raider errors, the Wolves had an early 3-0 lead.
An ace serve by RL-B junior Breanna Spartz was offset by back-to-back kills by H-LP senior standout Laura Rowe, and the Wolves took a 6-3 advantage.
A nifty spike kill by Raider sophomore Ceilia Schmitz made the score 6-4, but the visitors later spread the margin to 9-5 on a tip kill by senior Rebecca Hibma.
Spartz then took a nice set from junior setter Roshay Reimers (eight assists) and delivered a kill through a Wolves block attempt. Two more kills -- from the left side -- by Spartz brought the Raiders to within one, trailing just 9-8.
A missed RL-B serve was followed by back-to-back service aces by H-LP's Leah Elsbecker, increasing her team's lead to 12-8.
With momentum on their side, the Wolves opened up a six-point advantage (15-9) on back-to-back kills by junior Deni Peters (seven kills, 13-for-14 hitting)
Rowe, who led H-LP with nine kills and 15 set assists, cracked a thundering spike to the floor from the right side, extending the Wolves' lead to 17-9.
"She's our horse," Meyer said. "She can jump and pound it to the floor."
The Raiders had a brief rally when junior middle hitter Karen Schmitz (five blocks, five kills) made a nice stuff at the net, cutting the lead to 18-11.
But the Wolves -- behind their balanced hitting attack -- scored seven of the next eight points and won the game by 13 points.
A left-side spike kill by Rowe and a middle blast by Jena Peters (seven kills) highlighted a quick 4-0 lead for the visitors in Game 2, but the Raiders rallied -- starting with a set tip ace by Reimers -- and surged to an 8-5 advantage.
A dandy ace serve by senior left-hander Kim Wiese -- from corner to corner -- was a highlight of that Raider run, as was another stuff block, along with an ace tip, by Karen Schmitz.
"We had a nice run in that second game, building a three-point lead," praised Roos. "We made some good plays during that stretch."
The Wolves (4-0) rallied back, beginning with a kill through the block by Elsbecker (15-for-15 hitting with four kills). Right-side kills by Rowe and Hibma, respectively, were followed by an ace serve by Elsbecker and the score was tied at 10-all.
Then came the longest rally of the match, as the ball was sent back-and-forth over the net numerous times, before Larson and Hibma teamed up on a block that put the ball to the floor, giving H-LP an 11-10 lead.
"We did a good job of staying at it," said Meyer. "We had to battle to earn that point and then we made some more good plays and built a lead again."
Hibma (eight kills on 13-for-13 hitting) found a hole in the Raider defense, capping HL-P's 8-2 run and giving her a team a 13-10 edge, forcing a timeout by Roos.
"We need to play more aggressive and communicate better," Roos said. "That's what we talked about."
The talk helped, as the Raiders came back again -- highlighted by a big spike kill by senior Chelsea Meyer, a well-placed hit by Wiese and a deep ace serve by Spartz -- trimming the margin to 15-13.
A nice dig by Ceilia Schmitz saved a point during that rally too, as RL-B looked to regain the momentum.
But a left-handed kill by the right-handed Rowe gave the Wolves another point and a three-point cushion.
The Raiders, however, rallied again -- coming within one point (17-16) when Karen Schmitz took a set from Reimers and drilled a spike to the floor.
After a missed RL-B serve, the Wolves impressively opened up a 21-16 lead on three diverse plays at the net.
Elsbecker powered a kill from the left side, Rowe hammered one to the floor from the right side, and Jena Peters drove a kill from the middle, as the visitors displayed their hitting balance.
A backset over the net by Hibma scored the final point in H-LP's seven-point victory.
Another spike kill by Rowe, followed by four consecutive ace serves by Jodi Hibma (14 set assists) gave the Wolves a quick 5-0 lead in Game 3.
Later, Rowe delivered another blast to the floor from the left side, giving her team an 8-3 lead.
A cross-court spike by Elsbecker increased the advantage to 12-4 and the Wolves stayed in command, opening up leads of 17-5 and 19-7 before the Raiders rallied briefly, cutting the gap to 20-10.
A pair of well-placed kills by Spartz, who finished with a team-high seven, highlighted that RL-B surge.
Later, a deep kill by Karen Schmitz closed the H-LP lead to 21-12.
But the Wolves scored the next four points and completed their sweep.
"We had 38 kills and only six hitting errors," summarized Meyer about his team's hitting performance. "I was happy with that."
Deni Peters was 15-for-16 at the serving line for H-LP, including a trio of aces. Elsbecker topped the dig chart with 12.
Spartz and sophomore Mara Eichenberger each had 10 digs to lead the Raiders, who play at Luverne tonight.
H-LP has a week to prepare for Saturday's Spirit Lake Tournament.