Homecoming queen Randi Mehus returns a Houston serve. Observing are Lion teammates #2 Tara Solberg and #10 Aryn Jahnke
Homecoming queen Randi Mehus returns a Houston serve. Observing are Lion teammates #2 Tara Solberg and #10 Aryn Jahnke
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With no home volleyball matches during Homecoming Week, Spring Grove split a pair of road games falling in five sets at Houston on Sept. 18 before winning at Lanesboro's Homecoming on Sept. 20.

Spring Grove (L) at Houston

25-21, 17-25, 25-13, 24-26, 11-15

Houston snapped a 16-match losing streak against Spring Grove and replaced the Lions in second place with come-from-behind five-set volleyball thriller.

After splitting the first two sets, Spring Grove appeared to have finally assumed the upper hand with a 25-13 win in set three.

Houston then forced a fifth set by holding off a late Lion rally to eke out a 26-24 decision in set four. After the Lions rallied from an 18-12 deficit to tie at 23 and 24, Hurricane junior hitter Natalie King scored the winner with an ace block.

Spring Grove outscored Houston with one more kill (41-40), four more ace blocks (13-9) and three more service aces (10-7), but the Lions made too many mistakes when the match was on the line in the fifth set. Spring Grove committed 8 errors to only 4 for Houston in the match-deciding set (15-11).

KFIL-Radio Game Ball winner Abby Loken broke a 10-10 tie with four straight kills, putting the Hurricanes over the top in the final set. Loken was the most powerful hitter on the floor and the top scorer with 16 kills and two ace blocks.

Spring Grove served 10 aces but also gave away 15 points with misguided serves. The Lions' 85 percent serving (88 for 103) was their lowest of the season. Spring Grove created 33 more attacks, but the 'Canes were the more efficient hitters with a 17 percent hitting efficiency to 12 percent for the Lions.

KFIL Player of the Match for Spring Grove was senior setter Addison Cross who had 33 set assists while scoring with three kills, two blocks and three service aces (serving 18 for 19).

Nicole Ellingson was the leading Lion scorer with 8 kills, 7 blocks and 2 ace serves while serving 23 for 24. Samantha Bratland was also in double figures with 9 kills, 4 blocks and 2 aces.

Tara Solberg was the kill leader with 10 and only one misfire, while Randi Mehus put away 7 kills along with 2 ace serves. Aly Folz was out of action due to illness.

The Houston Player of the Match was the most versatile Hurricane, senior setter Vanessa Lee.

"Houston came on strong and got some really nice play from Abby Loken and Vanessa Lee," Lions coach Kelsey Morken said. "We were unable to limit our unforced errors. We committed about 30 hitting errors and 15 serving errors. Any team that commits that many errors will have a tough time winning a match."

SG (W) at Lanesboro

25-17, 25-15, 25-16

Two nights later after the disappointing loss, the Lions came back to disappoint Lanesboro's homecoming celebration, winning on the road in straight sets.

Ellingson scored 20 points while the Burro team earned 19. Serving 17 for 17, Ellingson had match highs with 5 ace serves and 15 kills along with an ace block.

The Burros (1-11, 1-6 SEC) remained in contention for much of the final two sets but could never generate much offense.

Passing and setting was critical as Spring Grove created 92 attacks to Lanesboro's 67.

The error count was about even (SG 29, LHS 27), but the Lions out-hit the Burros 35 kills to 11 and outscored LHS 46-19 when figuring in kills, blocks and ace serves.

Spring Grove recorded a 16% hitting efficiency, its second best of the season. Lanesboro had more hitting misfires (15) than kills (11).

For the fourth time in those six matches, the Lions served 92 percent (9 aces, 6 errors) while the Burros served 86 percent (7 aces, 7 errors).

The Burros were competitive in set one until the Lions separated with a five-point run to lead 16-10.

With their best hitting stretch of the night, the Lions jumped out to a 7-2 lead in set two. Lanesboro fought back, and was down by only four points at 21-17 after an ace serve by Sydney Johnson. The Lions then took the final four points with two kills from Solberg and one from Bratland.

Spring Grove led for most of set three, but LHS was still close at 16-13 before the Lions closed out the match with a 9-3 run.

Joining Ellingson with more kills than miscues were Solberg with 6 kills, setter Cross with four, Heidi Buxengard with two and Kailee Bjerke with one.

Cross guided the attack with 25 sets assists and also scored with a block. In addition to Ellingson's strong performance at the service line, Cross served 9 for 10 with 2 aces, and Homecoming Queen Randi Mehus was 15 for 17 with 2 aces. Folz remained out of action due to illness.

For Lanesboro, eighth-grader Lexi Melander served 7 for 7 with 2 aces.

A vocal crowd encouraged the Burros until the very end. A sizable throng also followed the Lions.

The Lions (9-8, 4-2 SEC) moved back up into a tie with Houston for second place in the SEC East as a result of the win. It was SG's fifth straight win in the series with Lanesboro. The Lions also won the B-team match 2-0

"Since our last match, we have focused much of our practice time and discussions around limiting unforced errors," Morken said. "We took a nice step tonight in the right direction. Our seniors did a nice job making those changes in the second and third set."



Southeast Conference 2012

conf. season

VOLLEYBALL W L W L T

EAST

Mabel-Canton* 6 - 0 16- 4 - 0

Spring Grove 4 - 2 9 - 8 - 0

Houston 4 - 2 6 -13 - 0

Hope Lutheran 1 - 5 4 - 8 - 0

Lanesboro 1 - 6 1 - 11 - 0

WEST

LeRoy-Ostrander* 5 - 1 8 - 2 - 0

Lyle/Pacelli 4 - 2 6 - 8 - 0

Grand Meadow 3 - 3 6 - 6 - 0

Glenville-Emmons 3 - 3 4 - 7 - 0

Schaeffer Academy 0 - 7 0 -12- 0

* defending champion