There have been enough upsets in the rivalry between Somerset and St. Croix Central in different sports in recent years that records and reputations carry little weight when teams from these schools meet.
That was the case again Monday night when the volleyball squads from Somerset and Central got together. Somerset is considered among the favorites in the Middle Border Conference this season, while Central is hoping to turn around its fortunes after finishing last in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference the past two years.
Somerset looked in control of Monday night's match after taking a 2-1 lead with a resounding 25-7 win in Game 3 of the match.
Then in the final two games, Central found the resolve that eluded them all last season. They won the final two games 25-20, 15-12 to topple the Spartans.
Central certainly looks like a team that has turned the corner. The Panthers started their season last Thursday with a quad meet at Hayward and they won all three of their matches, beating Prescott, Amery and Hayward.
"That's almost more wins in one day than we had all last season," said Central coach Amanda Webb. "The girls were pretty excited."
Monday's match included four tight games. The first game was close the entire way. Somerset's Elizabeth Coe served five straight points late in the game to turn the decision in Somerset's favor, with the Spartans winning 25-21.
The second game showed that this wasn't the same Central team that was seen the past two years. Central kept a small lead through much of the game, before Somerset came back to tie the score 19-19. Central then got kills from Ann Olson and Lacey Holzer to regain the lead, which the Panthers held for a 25-20 win.
After winning the second game, the Panthers suffered a huge letdown in the third game and Somerset took advantage, pounding the Panthers 25-7.
That game may have given the Spartans a false sense of confidence. The fourth game was a tense battle, with the teams exchanging points evenly most of the way. The Panthers took charge when Jessie Hazer put down a pair of kills and Central finished off the 25-20 win.
A fifth game in volleyball is played to 15 points and Somerset looked in good shape when the Spartans jumped to a 7-2 lead. Somerset's Megan Plourde had her best rally of the night hitting to help the Spartans build this lead.
Central used strong serving to come back. The Spartans led 12-8 when Brittany Butler took the serve. She never gave it up. Butler served out the game, including aces to get the 13th and 14th points, as Central closed out the match with a 15-12 win.
The biggest difference in Central's play compared to a year ago was at the end of close games. Last year the Panthers showed very little confidence in these pressure situations. This year, they have been excelling in those situations. It may trace back to their first match of the season. Facing Prescott, the Panthers trailed 22-12, then rallied to get the win. That started them to their sweep in the matches at Hayward.
Central's volleyball team will be back in action on Thursday, in a home quad meet. Somerset and Central will meet up again next Tuesday, in another quad meet at Central.