Nicki Ellingson tips past Houston double block. The junior middle hitter scored 24 points at the net in 3-1 win against the Hurricanes.
Nicki Ellingson tips past Houston double block. The junior middle hitter scored 24 points at the net in 3-1 win against the Hurricanes.
The Spring Grove volleyball team lost at Caledonia on Oct. 8, then won two home matches versus Houston on Oct. 9 and Lanesboro on Oct. 11.

Spring Grove (L) at Caledonia

8-25, 12-25, 12-25

Unable to stop the powerful hitting of Caledonia, the Lions dropped their 11th match of the year while playing their Highway 44 neighbor. The Warriors (19-6) came into the contest ranked No. 8 in the Class AA state poll.

While both teams had about the same number of attacks, the taller Warriors had 36 kills to 16 for Spring Grove. They also won the blocking battle 7-0. Caledonia had 39% hitting efficiency, by far a season-high for Lion opponents, while Spring Grove attacked with 4% efficiency (16 kills, 13 errors).

The leading scorer was 5-foot-10-inch Caledonia senior Maria Fruechte with 16 kills, 4 scoring blocks and two service aces.

The Lions had not previously experienced the elevation exhibited by 6-2 Emma Lange, 2011 state high jump champion, who was far above the net for her 12 kills and three ace blocks. The senior middle hitter also scored on two ace serves.

For the Lions, Nicki Ellingson put away seven kills with no errors. Addison Cross supplied 14 set assists. Samantha Bratland served 6 for 7 with two aces. Cross also served 5 for 6 with one ace.

Overall, the Lions put the ball in play at 91% with three aces and three miscues. The Warriors served aggressively at 95% with 11 aces and only four errors.

Spring Grove never led, falling behind 5-0 in set one and 4-1 in the both of the final two sets. In set two, the Lions came back to tie at five-all and six-all before the Warriors won six of the next seven points. It was the Warriors' ninth straight win in a series they lead 42-18.

Spring Grove (W) vs. Houston 25-16, 21-25, 25-17, 25-18

Returning to conference play, the Lions broke the tie for second place in the Southeast Conference (SEC) East Division with a four-set defeat of the Hurricanes.

Both teams were much more productive at the net than in their first SEC match, which the Hurricanes won in five sets. After achieving only 12% hitting efficiency against Houston back in September, the Lions matched their second-best efficiency of the year at 23% in the rematch.

Houston, at 25% efficiency, held a slight edge by virtue of a huge margin in the second set, the only one that the Hurricanes won.

Except for struggling in set two, Spring Grove had much better hitting numbers than the Hurricanes in the other three sets.

Ellingson led all scorers with 20 kills, 4 ace blocks and an ace serve. Cross scored 12 times with 5 kills, 2 blocks and a match-high 5 aces while serving 13 for 13. She also aired 37 set assists. Tara Solberg put away 11 kills.

Like Cross, Randi Mehus had 5 kills with only one misfire along with three ace serves. Bratland contributed 5 kills, 2 blocks and an ace serve.

Spring Grove served with their usual accuracy at 91% with Houston at 90%, but the Lions managed 12 aces while the 'Canes lost ground with three aces and eight serving errors. Outside hitter Aly Folz served 16 for 18 with two aces.

On defense, Mehus led with 12 digs with Aryn Jahnke digging 9 times. It was team defense as Folz had 8 saves with Cross digging 7 and Solberg 6.

The Lions never trailed in set one, getting off to a 12-3 start. They also took an 11-4 lead in set two, but Houston came back with a 15-3 run, which included 8 Lion hitting errors along with 5 Hurricane kills.

Following that hitting nosedive, Spring Grove's hitters came back strongly in final two sets. In set three, the Lions again took an 11-4 lead but this time did not falter and closed the door with a 25-17 win.

In set four, Spring Grove took a 9-4 lead only to see Houston tie the score three times before a four-point Lion run broke a 14-14 tie.

Spring Grove then closed the match with a block, an assist and an ace by Cross before a final-point kill by Solberg with an assist from Folz.

For the Hurricanes, Abbey Loken had 16 kills and Emma Berg 10. Senior setter Vanessa Lee had 9 kills and 27 set assists.

Spring Grove (W) vs. Lanesboro 25-17, 25-10, 25-16

Thursday's win over Lanesboro assured Spring Grove (14-11, 9-3 SEC) of a winning season and prevented the Burros (1-16, 1-11 SEC) from escaping the cellar of the SEC East.

The Lions enjoyed their best hitting efficiency of the season (26%) but suffered through a season-low 82% serving success.

Both teams struggled at the line with more errors than aces. The Burros kept only 80% of their serves in play, the second lowest of Lion opponents this season. With six ace serves and 13 errors, it was Spring Grove's worst ace-to-error ratio of the season.

The Lions had more kills than miscues in each set while the Burros accomplished that only once. LHS had 10 kills in the first set and then had only two in each of the final two sets.

Ellingson led in scoring, hitting 18 kills, 4 blocks and an ace serve. Bratland put away 4 kills, blocked for 2 points and served one ace.

Cross had 24 set assists in addition to scoring 4 kills and one service ace. Heidi Buxengard was the lone Lion with more service aces than errors. She served 2 for 3 with 2 aces.

Two kills by Madison Ming allowed Lanesboro to score the first point of the match and led briefly at 2-1, but the Burros played from behind most of the night.

LHS hit well in that first set but could not match the Lions four ace blocks and four ace serves. The Burros could not attack at the net with enough success to stay in contention in the final two sets.

Considering kills, errors and blocks, Spring Grove outscored LHS at the net 52-25.

Both teams closed their regular season on Oct. 16 with Spring Grove at Glenville-Emmons and LHS at LeRoy-Ostrander. Sub-section seeding occurs on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

The 12-team sub-section 1A East Tournament begins on Monday, Oct. 22 with the top four seeds having byes until the quarterfinal round on Oct. 25. The higher seeds will host the first two rounds.

The Oct. 27 Saturday afternoon semi-finals and the Nov. 1 finals are both staged at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

Southeast Conference 2012

conf. season

VOLLEYBALL W L W L T

EAST

Mabel-Canton* 12- 0 27- 5 - 0

Spring Grove 9 - 3 14-11 - 0

Houston 7 - 5 9 -16 - 0

Hope Lutheran 3 - 9 6 -16 - 0

Lanesboro 1 -11 1 -16 - 0

WEST

LeRoy-Ostrander* 9 - 3 18- 8 - 0

Grand Meadow 9 - 3 14- 9 - 0

Lyle/Pacelli 6 - 6 9 -14 - 0

Glenville-Emmons 4 - 8 6 -19 - 0

Schaeffer Academy 0 -12 0 -18- 0

* defending champion