The Elmwood/Plum City Wolves opened up their Tuesday, Sept. 4 match with a 25-8 set win over the Shell Lake Lakers.
“We had really good serves and we had good defense,” Wolves’ head coach Amanda Webb said, “which allowed us to get some good plays at the net, and that makes a huge difference for us.”
But after holding the Lakers to eight points, the Wolves found themselves down 14-8 against the same opponent who went on to beat their hosts 2-1 to claim the match win.
“It’s just trying to find that right mesh and put it all together,” Webb said. “We play high and low right now, as you can tell.”
Unfortunately, Tuesday’s loss wasn’t a fluke for the Wolves. The Wolves have recognized a habit of starting strong, falling back in Set 2 and failing to dig themselves out of the holes they've created.
Some may question whether Elmwood and Plum City forming a co-operative team is the reason for the early-season inconsistency, but Webb and senior hitter Katie Feuker have ruled out that theory.
“My freshmen were co-oped last year, so those girls know each other,” Webb said. “The majority of the girls are on the cheer team together, so it’s been a seamless transition. I feel there haven’t been any real issues. The kids have come together and just worked hard.”
Sure, the Wolves are working on improving their on-court communication, but so are the majority of teams at this point in the season.
“I think that was one of the main points that we stressed right off the bat — that we are one team,” Feuker said. “On the court, we are going to work together no matter what, and I’m really happy with the chemistry and energy that we’ve had so far.”
If it’s not the adjustment to the co-operative, what’s holding the Wolves back?
“We want to win, and everyone says they want to win, but when it comes down to it, people just get too comfortable,” Feuker said. “We’ve got to find the energy to pick it up in the second game and push through.”
The Wolves were able to “push through” in their second match on Tuesday in which they defeated the Gilmanton Panthers 2-0 with set wins of 25-16 and 26-24. The Wolves came back from a late, 22-19 deficit with the versatile net play of Feuker, Anna Blanford, Maggie Glaus, Hannah Baier and Mikinzie Ingli, and the exceptional serving of freshman Lily Webb and sophomore Ashlan Faber — the Wolves’ underclassmen setters who’ve held their own in their varsity volleyball debuts.
The Wolves have the tools to finish in the top half of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, and now they must look inward to discover what they need to keep Set 2 performances from limiting their success.
“Obviously we have to support each other,” Feuker said, “but it comes down to each individual making the decision to change that.”
The Wolves will continue their season at Aquinas High School’s invitational, which is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7.