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Spuds step up in sweep

MOORHEAD - Moorhead's volleyball team lost nine seniors to graduation and returns a team with only three players with varsity experience in 2014. With just three seniors, much will be asked of the junior class if the Spuds want to repeat as Minne...

Moorhead's Kenna Taylor and Bailee Gulseth
Moorhead’s Kenna Taylor looks back to watch teammate Bailee Gulseth return a serve against Hawley on Tuesday in Moorhead. Dave Wallis / The Forum

MOORHEAD – Moorhead’s volleyball team lost nine seniors to graduation and returns a team with only three players with varsity experience in 2014.

With just three seniors, much will be asked of the junior class if the Spuds want to repeat as Minnesota Class 3A, Section 8 champs.

“We’re asking our new upperclassmen to step up,” Moorhead coach Char Lien said. “It’s highs and lows right now. I have a lot of perfectionistic kids right now and they want everything to be perfect every, single night and that’s the youth. Once they realize that we can win even if they don’t play perfectly, that will help us down the road.”

The juniors came to play Tuesday, as Moorhead handed Hawley its first loss of the season 25-17, 25-17, 25-20. Match-high kills went to Spuds juniors Brianna Carney and Kenna Taylor, who finished with 12 and eight kills, respectively. Carney added five blocks and an ace and Taylor had 14 digs for the Spuds (4-2).

Carney struggled at the end of the first set, firing two kill attempts into the net, along with a serve. She came back in the second set with four early kills and rolled from there.

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“For her, it’s just about getting her timing down with the setters,” Lien said. “Once they learn that she is jumping pretty doggone high and they need to get that ball up for her, I think she’s going to find a lot more success. She knows when stuff’s not great to junk it up a little bit. She knows not everything needs to be a smash hit.”

It helps to have teammates to remind her of that.

“We have to come together more as a team because we don’t have the experience we did last year,” Carney said. “We need to step up and show we can do it. (After the first set) my teammates encouraged me. What your teammates say to you helps you stay positive and come back from it.”

That’s where senior Emily Uglem comes in. She finished with seven kills, six digs, one block and she was in the ear of every Spud after every point.

“Losing all (nine of our seniors) was a big loss,” Uglem said. “I think the juniors have already stepped up a lot. It’s early in the season and it’s great to see them going for balls you’d never imagine they’d get to last year. They’ve stepped so much already and we’re six games in.”

Hawley (3-1) had a 1-0 lead to open Set 1, but would never see a lead the rest of the match. It didn’t help that whenever a Nugget went up for a kill a wall of Spuds was waiting for them. Moorhead finished with 14 blocks to stop any Hawley momentum.

That comes with the territory of a Class 2A team like Hawley taking on a Class 3A team like Moorhead.

“Whenever you go up a class the game is faster and we just had a hard time adjusting,” Hawley coach Carrie Vetter said. “That was probably the best block that we’ve seen, so it starts to frustrate you a little bit and you start to think a little bit and question what you’re doing. We had too many mental errors.”

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H (kills-blocks-aces): Ellefson 7-0-0 (9 assists), Mattfeld 2-0-0, Olson 2-1-0, Sellin 1-1-0, Hovelson 3-2-0, Siiro 2-0-0, Noreen 0-0-0 (5 digs).

M: LaFlamme 3-2-0, Uglem 7-1-0, Taylor 9-0-1 (14 digs), Tonsfeldt 4-5-0, B. Carney 12-5-1, Gulseth 0-0-2, K. Carney 5-1-0 (20 assists).

Related Topics: VOLLEYBALL
Murphy has covered sports in Chicago, Minnesota and North Dakota since 2009, working for The Forum since 2012. Contact: cmurphy@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5548
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