Tara Solberg, coming off an Honorable Mention All-SEC season in 2012, is back on the volleyball court for her senior season in Spring Grove.
Tara Solberg, coming off an Honorable Mention All-SEC season in 2012, is back on the volleyball court for her senior season in Spring Grove.
Spring Grove opened the 2013 volleyball season with a pair of conference matches, first a 3-0 win at Schaeffer Academy in Rochester, followed two days later by a 3-0 setback at state-ranked Mabel-Canton.

SG at Schaeffer, Aug. 27

It was Lions versus Lions as the Spring Grove volleyball squad opened play at Schaeffer Academy on Aug. 27. The visitors prevailed in straight sets (3-0) just as they did against the same team on opening day of 2012.

Serving and receiving serve were the deciding factors, as SG served 16 aces with only 5 errors while SA posted only 3 aces with 7 misfires.

Spring Grove dominated the first two sets (25-11, 25-8), but their hosts put up a battle in the third before losing 25-23. In that final set, SA had 11 winning plays after only 7 in the first two sets combined. SG went the other direction, committing about half (12) of their 23 errors in the third set. It was not decided until kills by Aly Folz and Samantha Bratland broke a 22-22 tie. The match ended with the teams trading errors.

Two-time All-SEC hitter Nicki Ellingson led SG in all three scoring categories, with 7 ace serves, 6 kills and 2 blocks. Bratland and Folz put away 5 kills each, with 3 more from Kailee Bjerke. Bratland and Jordan Anderson also served 3 aces each.

Anderson, a sophomore, aired up 18 set assists in her debut as the starting varsity setter. The starting rotation also included Honorable Mention All-SEC Tara Solberg and libero Lauren Arneson.

With twice as many kills as SA (24 to 12), the visitors were hitting well. Unfortunately, they lacked accuracy at times, finishing with a 12 percent efficiency rating (24 kills with 17 errors). Schaeffer launched nearly as many attacks as SG (50 to 57) but struggled to put the ball away. They wound up with more hitting errors (15) than kills (12).

One thing players and fans could agree on was that SA's air conditioned gym was a welcome venue, with record or near-record temperatures outside.

Starting their third season of SEC volleyball, the Schaeffer girls are still searching for an elusive first conference win after back-to-back 0-13 league campaigns. SG is 4-0 all-time versus SA.

SA won the B-team match 2-0 (25-18, 25-18) while SG rallied to take the freshman match 2-1.

INDIVIDUALS - SET ASSISTS: Jordan Anderson 18, Sammi Boyd 2, Tara Solberg 1. KILLS: Nicki Ellingson 6, Samantha Bratland 5, Aly Folz 5, Kailee Bjerke 3, Anderson 2, Sierra Hunter 2, Lauren Arneson 1. ACE BLOCKS: Ellingson 2. ACE SERVES: Ellingson 7, Bratland 3, Anderson 3, Folz 1, Arneson 1, Boyd 1



SG at M-C, Aug. 29

With a new gym floor still under construction, Spring Grove shifted what would have been the home opener to Mabel-Canton. The Cougars, who arrived with a no. 5 ranking in state polls, defeated the Lions 3-0 (25-11, 25-13, 25-14.)

The veteran lineup from 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.

After surpassing 1,000 digs a year ago and being recognized before the match for her 1,000th career kill, Belle Sand led the Cougars with 11 kills, while the SG team managed only 9. The three-time Conference Player of the Year/two-time All-State honoree also served 3 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 8 misfires. The Lions placed 92 percent of their serves in-bounds, but SG's lone ace came from Bratland late in the match.

Ellingson led Spring Grove with 5 kills and 2 ace blocks. Sara Lind had the same 5-kill and 2-block totals for M-C. Cougar senior Lydia Geving accounted for 3 kills and a blazing 8 ace serves.

The Cougars improved to 2-0, while SG left at 1-1.

INDIVIDUALS - SET ASSISTS: Jordan Anderson 6. KILLS: Nicki Ellingson 5, Anderson 2, Samantha Bratland 1, Aly Folz 1. ACE BLOCKS: Ellingson 2, Kailee Bjerke 1. SERVICE ACES: Bratland 1



SEC Volleyball as of 9-4-2013

EAST DIVISION

Mabel-Canton 3-0 SEC, 10-0 season

Lanesboro 2-1 SEC, 2-1 season

Houston 2-1 SEC, 4-6 season

Spring Grove 1-1 SEC, 4-5 season

Hope Lutheran 1-2 SEC, 3-2 season

WEST DIVISION

Schaeffer Academy 2-1 SEC, 2-1 season

Grand Meadow 2-1 SEC, 2-2 season

Glenville-Emmons 1-2 SEC, 1-2 season

Lyle/Pacelli 0-2 SEC, 0-2 season

LeRoy-Ostrander 0-3 SEC, 0-3 season