NEW RICHMOND, Wis.-- After dropping two of their final three matches of the regular season last week, New Richmond volleyball coach Jeff Thiel said the Tigers need to play with a little more “zip” entering the postseason.
The Tigers dropped a three-set decision to St. Croix Central last Tuesday in Hammond and beat Prescott, 3-0 Thursday at home before losing in three sets at Chippewa Falls Saturday morning.
The Tigers will open the postseason as the No. 4 seed in their Division 1 regional and host No. 5 Hudson Tuesday night, Oct. 20. The winner will face top-seeded River Falls in a regional semifinal Thursday night in River Falls.
St. Croix Central, on the other hand, earned the top-seed and a first round bye in the Division 2 regional. They’ll host either No. 4 Altoona or No. 5 Elk Mound in a semifinal match Thursday night in Hammond. Somerset is the four seed on the other side of the bracket and will host No. 5 Amery in a quarterfinal match Tuesday night.
The Panthers and Tigers squared off last Tuesday in Hammond with Central coming away with a 25-18, 25-14, 25-11 victory.
New Richmond went on to beat Prescott, 25-21, 25-19, 25-15 Thursday night before losing to Chippewa Falls 17-25, 12-25, 12-25.
Thiel said the Tigers struggled mightily in serving and passing in their two losses.
“That contributed to us being tentative attacking the ball,” he said. “And St. Coix Central and Chippewa Falls are both really strong teams that beat us up with their middle and right side attacks. Their big blocks were able to get set up quite easily too, and we struggled hitting with range around them.”
In Thursday’s win over Prescott, Angela Blinderman paced the Tigers with 12 kills and Leah DeYoung had nine while Ashley Patten dished out 36 assists.
Blinderman also had a team-high 14 digs blocked two shots and Cassie Dolezal had nine digs while Abigail Blaszczyk added seven.
Thiel said the Tigers are still reacclimating themselves with having everyone back after being at less than full strength the bulk of the season due to quarantines.
“When we make a little bit of energy, really great things happen,” he said. “We'll be looking to do that in postseason play. That was the biggest difference in our win over Prescott. There was definitely a high level of excitement and energy that the team radiated in that match.”
St. Croix Central coach Mindy Widiker said the Panthers are looking good after following up their win over New Richmond with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-22 victory against Osceola.
“We played very consistently in both matches,” she said. “We had strong serves with very few errors, we did a nice job blocking at the net, and had some great defensive plays. Our serve-receive was strong, and we had an effective offense. The setters spread the offense out, which helped keep the defense on their heels. We came out strong in the first sets in both matches and didn't lose momentum. And we're hoping to stay healthy and perform at a high level going into playoffs.”