When the New Richmond volleyball team is “on” the Tigers can play evenly with any team in the area.

In front of a Senior Night crowd on Thursday, the Tigers were nothing short of sensational. They were sharp in every facet of their game against a strong Ellsworth team. The Tigers rolled past Ellsworth 25-19, 25-11, 25-21.

The match came two nights after the Tigers played an underwhelming effort in a loss at Somerset. Tiger coach Al Getschel said he took a tough love approach to the practice the following night, making all of the players run for any mistake by any team member. Getschel said the Tigers played Thursday like Somerset had played against the Tigers on Tuesday.

“It’s the emotion of the game. Everyone passed much better, they were much more determined,” he said.

Getschel said the Tigers were led by junior setter Ashley Patten.

“Ashley was lights out. She was making great choices and was putting the ball spot-on,” Getschel said. Patten had 36 assists in the win and she led the Tigers with three service aces and 11 digs.

The hitters benefitted from the setting and passing, with a broad hitting attack. Leah DeYoung led the Tigers with 12 kills. Mandy Dolezal finished with nine kills and Brittany Emmerich eight kills. Emmerich was playing at middle hitter with Audrey Feuerer sidelined with an injury.

The Tigers finish their regular season schedule this Tuesday with a home match against Amery.

Somerset victory

Senior Night.

Dig Pink Night.

Final home match.

Facing rival New Richmond.

Those reasons would each been enough to inspire the Somerset volleyball team on Tuesday. Combined, those reasons turned the Spartans into a dynamo. The Spartans earned their first Middle Border Conference win of the season by sweeping New Richmond, 25-19, 25-22 and 25-19.

For the first time this season, the Spartans are seeing results for their hard work. They have now won three matches in a row. They ended Saturday’s New Richmond Invitational with a win over Cadott. On Monday, they went to Boyceville and swept three sets against the Bulldogs.

The Spartans played with fire and kept the pressure on the Tigers. The first set was close, with New Richmond leading 18-17. Gracie Lambert then reeled off a string of tough serves and the Spartans were able to finish with a 25-19 win.

The second set was quite similar. Somerset led 13-12 before New Richmond’s serve receiving hit a rough patch. When the Tigers recovered, they were able to cut the margin to three points several times, but lost 25-22.

The Tigers trailed 18-13 in the third set, but then cut the margin to 18-17. The Tigers’ serving then let them down as they missed three straight serves. That allowed Somerset to finish the night with another 25-19 win.

This was the first conference win for first-year Somerset coach Amber Vrieze. She said the energy from the players and the large crowd kept the team riding high.

“There was a positive energy. Everyone was having a good time and playing for each other,” Vrieze said. “It was so key that we could run our offense.”

That’s because the Spartans were getting excellent passing. The passing allowed setters Stevie Haigh and Sophie Rivard to spread around the hitting opportunities. Outside hitters like Taylor Paulson, Kristine Scherz and Madisen Beuthling were able to find success. Haigh, Scherz and Beuthling are the three seniors who were honored in the Senior Night festivities.

Scherz said the seniors have been working on team bonding, keeping the team’s spirits up going through the early-season growing pains.

“I hope the winning streak continues,” Scherz said, with a twinkling smile that clearly showed she was relishing the victory.

For New Richmond, it was nearly impossible to get their attack starting. With the difficulties passing, the Tigers looked like they were in scramble mode for much of the night. By the end of the night, New Richmond coach Al Getschel was playing the six girls who were giving the best energy. The Tiger coaches were stunned to see the team’s play drop off so severely after they took state-power Grantsburg to three sets on Saturday.

“(Monday’s) practice was lackluster and it looked that way on the court. Our serve receive was marginal at best,” Getschel said.