Heidi Buxengard at Grand Meadow
Heidi Buxengard at Grand Meadow
The Lion volleyball team scored a pair of four-set road wins last week, improving to 7-5 (4-1 SEC).

Spring Grove at Grand Meadow, September 10

The Lions cruised through the first and third sets by identical 25-8 scores. In between, GM dominated set two 25-11. SG remained in control at the end, going up 15-5 in set four before winning 25-17.

Spring Grove grabbed the momentum in the early going before the home team rallied. In set two, the Superlarks committed only 2 of their 30 total errors while recording nearly half (8) of their total kills (17) and 3 of their 4 total ace blocks. The second set was the only time that the Lions gave away more points than they earned.

Overall, SG outscored GM 86-58 with an impressive 41-17 advantage in kills. They were 8 points better at the service line. The Superlarks' only statistical edge came with 4 ace blocks to just 2 for SG.

The KFIL-Radio SG Player of the Match was Nicki Ellingson, who put away 16 kills and scored with one block and one ace serve. The KFIL Game Ball Award went to Tara Solberg for her strong defense in addition to 4 kills and 2 ace serves. Solberg was flawless (15 of 15) from the line.

Eight Lions were credited with kills including libero Lauren Arneson (1) and sophomore setter Jordan Anderson (2 kills, 33 assists). Aly Folz contributed 7 kills with 4 each from Samantha Bratland and Kailee Bjerke. Sierra Hunter came in for 3 kills.

The KFIL Superlark Player of the Match was middle hitter Rio Landers. The 6-foot-1 sophomore scored 13 points with 8 kills, all four GM blocks and an ace serve.

With 41 kills and 18 hitting errors, the Lions had a season-high 24% hitting efficiency compared to the Larks' 4%.

SG was also effective from the service line with 13 aces and only 5 misfires. They served with 94% accuracy while GM had 86% (8 aces, 8 errors). Folz (3 aces) and Heidi Buxengard (2 aces) both served 7 for 7. Anderson went 9 for 11 with 3 service aces while Sammi Boyd served 19 for 19 with one ace.

The Lion B-team (0-4) fell to GM in two sets.

INDIVIDUALS: SET ASSISTS (36): Jordan Anderson 33, Tara Solberg 2, Kailee Bjerke 1. KILLS (41): Nicki Ellingson 16, Aly Folz 7, Samantha Bratland 4, Tara Solberg 4, Kailee Bjerke 4, Sierra Hunter 3, Jordan Anderson 2, Lauren Arneson 1. ACE BLOCKS (2): Samantha Bratland 1, Nicki Ellingson 1. SERVICE ACES (13): Aly Folz 3, Jordan Anderson 3, Tara Solberg 2, Heidi Buxengard 2, Sammi Boyd 1, Nicki Ellingson 1, Samantha Bratland 1.

Spring Grove at Houston, September 12

SG won the match 3-1, but only outscored Houston 99 to 93 overall. The showdown was closely contested throughout, leaving spectators on the edge of their seats.

In a battle for second place in the SEC East, the Hurricanes came through at the end of the first set. But SG came through in the clutch in the other three.

The most critical point came when an all-conference hitter from each team went above the net at the end of set three. Houston's Abbey Loken attacked, but Lion Nicki Ellingson blocked for the winning point.

That gave SG a 2 set to 1 lead, won by taking 5 of the final 6 points. It was an impressive stand, overcoming Houston's 24-22 lead.

Set one (Houston 25-21) had been tied 12 times with 6 lead changes. The Hurricanes broke a 20-20 tie with a 4-1 winning run.

Houston looked good with a 22-16 lead in set two (SG 26-24), but SG closed with a 10-2 run with Samantha Bratland scoring 5 times.

Both teams played well at the end of set three (SG 27-25) combining for only one error among the final 9 points. SG finished with a 5-1 run featuring Ellingson's winning block and her 2 kills along with a block and kill from Aly Folz.

Set 4 (SG 25-19) was the only one that was not close at the end. Trailing 14-12, SG won that set and the match with a 13-5 run

Ellingson finished with 24 kills and 3 ace blocks while Loken scored with 19 kills, one block and 2 ace serves.

Houston sophomore Kelly Jerviss totaled 10 kills. Natalie King scored with 7 kills and 2 blocks.

SG had 21% hitting efficiency to Houston's 22%, but the Lions outscored the 'Canes 52-46 at the net as six different Lions had kills.

Bratland (2 blocks) put away 8 kills, Folz 5 (1 block), Kailee Bjerke 4 and Solberg 3. Setter Jordan Anderson had 2 kills in addition to assisting on 40 of the Lions' 46 kills.

Each team served 88% with neither achieving a scoring edge at the service line. SG had 12 aces with 12 errors while Houston served 11 aces with 11 errors.

It was a championship atmosphere as the Hurricane student section energized the crowd from the opening serve. Houston is attempting to halt the Lions' 4-year possession of second place in the SEC East. Coming in a half-match behind, the Lions (4-1 SEC) left a half-match ahead of Houston (4-2 SEC). Houston had defeated SG earlier this year by a one point in a tiebreaker at the Mabel-Canton Tournament.

Houston won both the B-team and freshmen matches by 2-0 scores.

Up next

The Lions played at Lanesboro on Tuesday this week before the first match on the Lions' new gymnasium floor versus Mabel-Canton on Thursday, Sept. 19. The girls will be at the Waukon Tournament on Saturday before returning for Homecoming week with a Tuesday, Sept. 24 visit from Lyle/Pacelli.

INDIVIDUALS:

SET ASSISTS (42): Jordan Anderson 40, Kailee Bjerke 1, Samantha Bratland 1.

KILLS (46): Nicki Ellingson 24, Samantha Bratland 8, Aly Folz 5, Kailee Bjerke 4, Tara Solberg 3, Jordan Anderson 2.

ACE BLOCKS (6): Nicole Ellingson 3, Samantha Bratland 2, Aly Folz 1.

SERVICE ACES (12): Samantha Bratland 4, Jordan Anderson 3, Sammi Boyd 2, Heidi Buxengard 1, Aly Folz 1, Tara Solberg 1.

SERVICE ACES (12): Samantha Bratland 4, Jordan Anderson 3, Sammi Boyd 2, Heidi Buxengard 1, Aly Folz 1, Tara Solberg 1

SEC standings

EAST DIVISION

Mabel-Canton 6-0 SEC (14-0 season)

Spring Grove 5-1 (8-5)

Houston 4-2 (6-8)

Hope Lutheran 3-3 (5-3)

Lanesboro 1-6 (1-6)

WEST DIVISION

Lyle/Pacelli 4-2 (5-8)

Schaeffer Academy 3-4 (3-8)

Grand Meadow 3-3 (3-9)

Glenville-Emmons 1-5 (1-5)

LeRoy-Ostrander 1-5 (1-10)