Belle Sand, a senior outside hitter, leaps into the air and taps the volleyball over the net against the Cougars’ match-up with Spring Grove last Thursday evening. Also shown on the court are Lydia Geving (#5), at left, and Sara Lind (#4) at right.  HEATHER KLEIBOER/NEWS-RECORD
Belle Sand, a senior outside hitter, leaps into the air and taps the volleyball over the net against the Cougars’ match-up with Spring Grove last Thursday evening. Also shown on the court are Lydia Geving (#5), at left, and Sara Lind (#4) at right. HEATHER KLEIBOER/NEWS-RECORD
The Mabel-Canton Cougars volleyball team opened its season last week with a winning streak, first beating LeRoy-Ostrander and Spring Grove in regular season games and then sweeping its own Labor Day tournament on Saturday. (See related story.)

Mabel-Canton at LeRoy-Ostrander, Aug. 27

The Cougars traveled to LeRoy to open their 2013 volleyball campaign, defeating the Cardinals in straight sets 25-3, 25-5, 25-4.

Mabel-Canton brought with them a number-five state ranking in Class A. Five returning senior starters quickly took command of the match.

"We started quickly in all three sets against LeRoy-Ostrander," M-C coach Lonnie Morken said later. "I was very proud of us being the aggressors and not coming out passive. I felt our serving took them out of any rhythm they wanted to get into on offense and gave us a ton of free balls which we capitalized on."

Always aggressive at the line, the Cougars totaled 24 ace serves while only missing eight. They ran an efficient attack, finishing with 27 kills and only two errors. Middle hitters Sara Lind and Sara Vettleson-Trutza managed perfect stats while putting the ball away (nine attempts and nine kills).

"Overall it was a great start to our season," Morken concluded. "Belle Sand recorded her 1,000th kill versus L-O. She is the fourth player in school history to accomplish that milestone!"

Others to have earned that honor are Kate Horihan, Karlie Urbaniak and Molly Horihan.

SET ASSISTS: Carly McCabe 16.

KILLS: Belle Sand 7, Sara Vettleson-Trutza 5, Sara Lind 4.

ACE BLOCKS: Lind 3, Vettleson-Trutza 2, Hannah Nolte 2.

SERVICE ACES: Coranda Vickerman 10, Lydia Geving 6, Christine Lee 3.

Mabel-Canton versus Spring Grove, Aug. 29

With their new gym floor still under construction, Spring Grove shifted what would have been their home opener to Mabel-Canton on Aug. 29. The Cougars defeated the Lions 25-11, 25-13, 25-14.

M-C dominated at the net and at the service line. Each team surrendered almost the same number of error points, but the Cougars displayed far more offense.

Sand led the Cougars with 13 kills while the Spring Grove team managed only nine. The three-time Conference Player of the Year and two-time All-State honoree also served two aces.

The match began with an ace block by Lion junior Kailee Bjerke, but M-C would finish with twice as many blocks (6) as Spring Grove (3) and nearly three times as many kills (26).

After trading errors, Spring Grove led 2-1 in the first set but would never lead again. The Lions struggled at the net with more attacking errors (16) than kills.

Aggressive Cougar servers smoked in 17 aces with only eight misfires. The Lions placed 92 percent of their serves in-bounds, but Spring Grove's lone ace came from Samantha Bratland late in the match.

Nicki Ellingson led Spring Grove with five kills and two ace blocks. Lind had the same five-kill and two-block totals for M-C. Geving accounted for three kills and a blazing eight ace serves. The Cougars improved to 2-0 while Spring Grove left at 1-1.

"They have one of the top players in the conference in Nikki Ellingson," Morken noted. "We certainly wanted to contain her, which I thought we did a pretty good job of."

"We played hard on each point for the second straight match," Morken continued. "We have room to improve, but as long as we commit to playing hard on each point we should be very good again this season. Serving was a key again. We finished with eight misses, but also 14 aces."

"They are a good ball handling team so we knew we had to serve aggressive or they would be able to set Ellingson all night," Morken concluded. "I was very pleased with Christine Lee (11 digs) at libero and Carly McCabe (17 assists) at setter. They both have played two super games!"

SET ASSISTS: Carly McCabe 17.

KILLS: Sand 13, Lind 5.

ACE BLOCKS: Lind 4.

SERVICE ACES: Geving 8.