A large volleyball crowd turned out to watch neighboring Spring Grove take on Mabel-Canton on Tuesday night, Sept. 4. Two nights later, the Cougars hit the road for the first time this season with a trip to Houston.

Mabel-Canton defeated both the Lions and the Hurricanes without dropping a set, winning 25-11, 25-17, 25-10 on Tuesday, and 25-13, 25-11, 25-21 on Thursday.

Spring Grove made its best run on the home team in the second set. Down 16-8, the Lions scored six straight points featuring kills from Nicki Ellingson and setter Addison Cross and ace blocks from Ellingson and Samantha Bratland. After calling a timeout, however, the Cougars closed out the set with an 8-3 run. In the third set, there were six early tie scores before M-C ran off six straight points with four kills, an ace block and an ace serve.

By the time it was over, Mabel-Canton was only one point short of doubling up on the Lions, 75-38. The Cougars held a 7-0 advantage in service aces, but the match was largely decided at the net. Spring Grove (4-5, 1-1 SEC) created attacks but had more hitting mishaps than kills. In fact, each team had almost the same number of attacks (SG 103, M-C 102) but the Cougars had twice as many kills (34-17) and far fewer hitting errors (9) than the Lions (23).

For the Cougars, two-time conference player of the year, 5-foot, 7-inch junior Belle Sand led all scorers with 10 kills and three ace serves.

Mabel-Canton coach Lonnie Morken reported that Sara Lind had the "best game of her career," finishing with seven kills and only one error. Lydia Geving contributed six kills and two aces. In total, six Cougars had three or more kills.

Ellingson led Spring Grove with four kills (and four blocks for scores), but the only Lions with more kills than hitting miscues were Tara Solberg and Cross, each with three kills. In fact, the Lions' only stat advantage came with 5-1 edge in scoring blocks. All five came in the second set, with four by Ellingson and one from Bratland. Cross was credited with 13 assists, 10 digs.

"They are always very solid and make you work for every point you get," Morken said. "I thought our serving and serve receive were great again. It allowed our setter, Carly McCabe, to set a variety of hitters... It was an important conference victory for us early in the season."

Morken noted that Houston has two of the better players in the conference with senior Vanessa Lee at setter and junior Abby Loken at middle hitter.

"This match was almost a carbon copy of the Spring Grove match," he stated after Thursday's competition.

"We served great (three misses/14 aces) and serve received extremely well. We realize we can still improve in these two areas, but at this point in the season I'm very pleased with where these two skills are. I was a little disappointed in our 15 hitting errors, but our timing is still a work in progress. We had some balance again on offense with Belle Sand (nine kills), Sara Lind (eight kills), Lydia Geving (seven kills), and Christy Welscher (five kills) all having solid nights. Carly McCabe set extremely well again - 27 assists."

The wins place M-C at 10-0-0 on the season, 3-0 in conference matches. Up next, the Cougars hosted Caledonia on Tuesday and then will host Schaeffer Academy on Thursday.

Southeast Conference 2012

conf. season



Mabel-Canton* 3 - 0 10- 0 - 0

Houston 2 - 1 3 - 7 - 0

Spring Grove 1 - 1 4 - 5 - 0

Hope Lutheran 1 - 2 3 - 2 - 0

Lanesboro 1 - 2 1 - 3 - 0


LeRoy-Ostrander* 2 - 1 5 - 2 - 0

Grand Meadow 2 - 1 3 - 1 - 0

Lyle/Pacelli 1 - 1 1 - 2 - 0

Glenville-Emmons 1 - 2 1 - 2 - 0

Schaeffer Academy 0 - 3 0 - 3 - 0

* defending champion