A loss is a loss, but Prescott’s Tuesday night loss to the Osceola filled the Cardinals with confidence as they near the end of the regular season.
“We knew that Osceola was one of our toughest games in the conference,” Prescott senior libero Ashley Rieken said after her team’s 3-1 loss. “We pushed them, and I’m really proud of that.”
Aside from a low-energy Set 2 performance in which the Cardinals were trounced by the Chieftains in a 25-11 loss, the Cardinals stuck with their guests throughout the night; the first, third and fourth sets were decided by five points or less.
“We’ve really focused on playing point by point, and we came out and did that in the first set,” Prescott’s co-head coach Sami Martell said.
The two teams were tied at 10-10 in the first set, and the Cardinals managed their first lead after being granted a Chieftain serving error. The Cardinals leaned on the powerful outside hitting of Bella Lenz and Aaliyah Adrian, but were ultimately flummoxed by Osceola’s shallow tips that the off-blockers couldn’t account for. That problem persisted throughout the night.
“Our off-blocker needs to get those tips,” Martell said. “We tell them they have everything above the 10-foot line, and just being low and ready is what we need to be doing.”
The Cardinals claimed Set 3 and looked like a completely new team after their Set 2 mishaps. The Chieftains used an 8-0 run in their Set 2 win, but only managed two separate 4-0 runs in the final two sets of the night.
“We tell ourselves to stay focused, and our determination and focus is what brought us back into that game,” Rieken said.
“The second set we started thinking more, and when we think, we don’t play,” Martell said. “After that, we went back to just playing and doing what we know how to do. I thought we had a really good hitting night.”
Lenz led the Cardinals with four more kills in the third set, but the Cardinals earned aggressive net play from Lenz, Adrian, Mckenna Johnson and Nicole Dalman, which allowed them to claim a 25-22 Set 3 win.
Osceola got off to a 5-1 lead to start the fourth and final set, and three of their first seven points came from tips. The Cardinals bounced back with kills from Lenz, Johnson and Adrian but were unable to withstand the hitting of middle hitter Kaili Bradway who recorded three kills and one block in the Chieftains’ 25-22 Set 4 win.
The Cardinals will be tasked with slowing down talented middle hitters again on Tuesday, Oct. 15, when they travel to St. Croix Central High School for their final regular season game.
“(St. Croix Central) beat one of the teams we lost to, so that just pushes us to work even harder,” Rieken said. “We know it’s not going to be an easy game, but we’ll take one set at a time.”
“I think we put up a really good fight (against Osceola),” Martell said, “and I think if we play like that, we can do the same thing with SCC and hopefully come out with a win.”
Ellsworth defeated Baldwin-Woodville 3-0 on Tuesday, Oct. 8, but went on to lose 3-0 to New Richmond on Thursday, Oct. 10. The Panthers are now 3-3 in Middle Border Conference play and will complete their regular season with a home game against Osceola on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The Spring Valley Cardinals added another Dunn-St. Croix Conference win on Thursday, Oct. 10, when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Glenwood City 3-2. Lexi Johansen led the Cardinals with 15 kills and five aces, Jasmine Ortner recorded 42 assists, and Maddie Matthys added a team-high 23 digs. Spring Valley will travel to Colfax on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Elmwood/Plum City defeated Mondovi 25-18 in Set 1 of their Thursday, Oct. 10, Dunn-St. Croix Conference match, lost Sets 2 and 3, but went on to win Set 4 25-23 to force a fifth set. However, the Wolves came up short in the final set of the night, which Mondovi won 15-10. The Wolves are now 0-5 in DSC play and will host Durand (0-6) on Tuesday, Oct. 15.