FIELD TWP- The North Woods Grizzlies volleyball team ran its season record to 11-2 this week with a road win over Cook County, a home victory over Littlefork-Big Falls, and a 3-1 match record at the …
FIELD TWP- The North Woods Grizzlies volleyball team ran its season record to 11-2 this week with a road win over Cook County, a home victory over Littlefork-Big Falls, and a 3-1 match record at the Rock Ridge tournament on Saturday.
The Grizzlies got a double-helping of Vikings to chew up and spit out this week, with the ones from Cook County the victims on Tuesday. The Grizzlies came out hot and pummeled Cook County in the opening set 25-8. The Vikings put up a bit more resistance in the next two sets, but couldn’t keep up with the Grizzlies as North Woods claimed 25-16 and 25-14 set wins to sweep the match 3-0.
The Vikings of L-BF met a similar fate on Monday. The Grizzlies streaked to a 9-0 lead in the first set with Tori Olson serving and Addy Hartway collecting a pair of kills and a block, and North Woods breezed to a 25-11 win. L-BF got on the board earlier in the second set, but that was the only plus for the Vikings in another easy win for the Grizzlies 25-12.
The third set was more of a contest, with L-BF leading by as many as three in the early going and fighting toe-to-toe with the Grizzlies up through a 15-15 tie. Another Hartway block gave the Grizzlies the lead for good at 16-15, and Isabel Pascuzzi slammed a kill shot that ignited a run that put North Woods up 21-15. Madison Dantes closed out the 25-17 win with an ace, chalking up another 3-0 win for the Grizzlies.
North Woods had one of the better records in the nine-team field at the Rock Ridge tourney in Eveleth, and wasted little time showing why, dispatching Cherry and Nashwauk-Keewatin in morning pool play with identical 2-0 match wins.
That performance put North Woods into the afternoon’s toughest pool, a welcome position for the Grizzlies as it gave them the opportunity to avenge their only loss of the season to South Ridge.
The Panthers were up first in the afternoon session, and North Woods was more than amped up for the challenge, bolting out to a somewhat surprising 19-9 lead over the taller South Ridge six. But the Panthers wouldn’t let this one slip away without a fight as they steadily cut into the North Woods lead. With North Woods serving at set point, 24-20, the Panthers reeled off three scoring plays before the Grizzlies’ Lauren Burnett crushed their comeback hopes with a kill to give North Woods a 25-23 win.
The Grizzlies took an early 5-0 lead in the second set, but South Ridge came back to tie the score at 10-10. Then it was the Grizzlies turn to play catch up, which they did, tying the score again at 15-15 on a Pascuzzi kill. But the Panthers took advantage of a couple of North Woods miscues to forge a 22-18 lead, and went on to force a third set with a 25-21 win.
As with the first two sets, North Woods got off to a quick start, leading 7-2. The Panthers reeled off three points after taking a time out, and Head Coach Kandi Olson decided a time out was in order for the Grizzlies. North Woods went back up by five, 10-5, and moments later held a 12-8 advantage. The Panthers pulled to within one at 13-12 when Olson used another time out. Coming out of the break, Burnett scored the final two Grizzlies points including the set and match winner, a sizzling cross-court kill for the 15-13 win.
Olson said she was concerned about a possible let-down after the big South Ridge win, and Cromwell-Wright was clearly up to the challenge in the final match of the day. The two teams had the entire gym to themselves as the other pools had finished play, and the first set was a dogfight, with eight ties up through 14-14. The Cardinals took the lead, but North Woods tied the set again at 19-19. C-W went up by two on a pair of kills and closed out the set with another to win 25-22.
The Cardinals carried that momentum into the second set, going up 5-0 and 11-6 before the Grizzlies made their move. With Dantes serving the Grizzlies turned the table and went up 13-11 before the Cardinals took back the serve. But the Grizzlies still had momentum on their side and pulled away for a 25-18 win.
The third set was another tight affair, with the teams tied at four, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and 12. But a pair of Grizzlies miscues gave C-W match point at 14-12, and the Cardinals closed it out with a kill to win the match 2-1, handing North Woods only their second defeat of the season.
Olson was pleased with her team’s overall performance, most notably their ability to adapt to the different styles of play they encountered during the tourney. Adapting to opponents had been a focus in recent practices, Olson said, and she was happy to see the team put into practice some of the things they’d worked on.
North Woods was scheduled to play Northeast Range at home on Thursday, and then travel to Ely on Tuesday. North Woods could possibly face both teams again when all three participate in a tournament at Mesabi East on Saturday, Oct. 7.