Impressive wins are the best medicine.
St. Croix Central volleyball coach Mindy Widiker was battling the bug that has afflicted so many area coaches and students on Tuesday. Her team made her feel a whole lot better with an impressive three-set win over New Richmond on Tuesday.
Central quickly turned the match into a serve and block contest, excelling so much in those areas that it completely took New Richmond out of its usual approach. The opening set was close, ending 25-19. The Tigers had more and more trouble dealing with Central’s attack, losing the final sets 25-9 and 25-8.
There is a full slate of Middle Border Conference matches this Thursday. New Richmond will host Prescott, while St. Croix Central hosts Baldwin-Woodville. Somerset plays at Ellsworth, while Osceola plays at Amery.
The first set in Tuesday’s match saw both teams flex their muscles early no. Central jumped out to an 11-3 lead. Then New Richmond fought back, tying the match at 11-11. Central led 19-18, then the Panthers revved up their net game. Led by two kills from Katie Larson, the Panthers’ final flurry produced a 25-19 win.
Central was able to reel off long stretches of points due to excellent serving. Widiker said the team has been working at putting more spin on its serves. It showed. The Tigers struggled all night to get a clean pass on those serves, which fluttered like knuckleballs, but still had a strong velocity.
Katie Holmgren served the Panthers to a 5-0 start in the second set and the Tigers never recovered. The score was quickly 13-4 and the margin grew from there.
The Tigers came out with fire in the third set, which was tied 6-6. Then Katie Gostovich stepped to the service line and picked apart the Tigers’ serve receive, serving 10 straight points before the Tigers could regain the serve momentarily.
New Richmond coach Al Getschel was just as shocked as his players in how quickly and how completely the Tigers’ attack came apart.
“Their passing was spot on, ours was terrible. We couldn’t run our offense. When we did, we hit well, but we didn’t get many chances,” Getschel said.
Widiker said she usually can find areas of the Panthers’ play to critique, but she said her team played so well, she didn’t see any negatives.
“I felt like we had it all together. All the pieces were working,” Widiker said.
She pointed to passing, setting, serving and attacking as areas that all looked good. Another feature that worked well for the Panthers was blocking, where they effectively took away any opportunities for New Richmond’s middle hitters.
“Our block has been really great all around this year. That’s been one big difference,” Widiker said.
The blocking is led by Gostovich, Larson and Olivia Cleary and it seemed the Central blockers challenged every hitting attempt the Tigers tried. Widiker said the setting done by Holmgren and Morgan Siler has also progressed nicely, keeping the hitting attack running smoothly.