Tanager volleyball team falls to Minnesota opponents

Tanager volleyball team falls to Minnesota opponents by Jim Prosser The Vermillion volleyball team faced five Minnesota schools last Saturday, Sept. 11, when they were entered in the Luverne, MN, invitational.

They were treated rather roughly in the out-of-state competition as they were soundly defeated by talented, experienced squads.

"Beginning play against the eventual runner-up in the competition, Worthington, the girls really played well � blocking and defense made a huge step up from previous games," said coach Lenni Billberg.

Throughout the two-game format, the Tanagers were given chances to win, "however, our nemesis passing failed us and gave the victory to the Worthington gals," said the coach.

In the first match, the Tanagers lost two, 25-18, 25-22.

Significant team stats included Annie Carlson who recorded 9 attacks, 9 passes, 3 kills, 4 points on serve, and 7 digs. She was aided by Melissa Olson with 9 A, 2 blocks, 2 D, and 8 sv pts. Also contributing were: Ellen Odson � 14 set assists, 7 sv pts, and 5 digs; and Michelle Olson had 4 P, 10 A, 1 K, 1 B, and 5 D.

The match against Class AA powerhouse Pipestone was a two-game loss 25-19, 25-17.

"After the trouncing last year, we matched up well, proving we're a strong blocking squad, plus one with a constant fast attack. I commend the 'Ellen/Melissa connection,' " Billberg said. "However, our passing broke down in the wanning moments of the match."

Stats for the Tanagers were: Carlson led with 10 P, 11 A, digs 3, kills 5, and 8 S-P, 3 aces; Melissa Olson scored 8 A, 2 P, 1 K, 7 D, 7 S-P, 1 ace; Odson was credited with 10 assists, 8 S-P, 1 ace.

Match #3 pitted the Tanagers against the mighty Blue Earth Area club.

"This team defended everything we threw at them and came on to defeat us 25-20, 25-19. Our best weapon was our quickening of the offense," said the coach.

Stats for the Blue Earth match were: Odson � 8 A, 3 K, 3 D, 18 assists, 12 S-P, 3 aces; Melissa Olson 4 P, 10 A, 5 K, 2D, and 7 S-P; Carlson � 19 A, 2 K, 3 D, 7 S-P, 1 ace; Britt Weydert led in digs with 7; and Heather Walker had 7 A, 2 K, 5 D, 4 S-P, 1 ace.

The last pool play match was against the ladies from South West Christian, a class A Minnesota power.

"This team served us tough and defended every return ball," Billberg said. "The theme of the day was our blocking which limited their offense. However, our passing came back to haunt us, taking away our chances for a win."

The score was 21-25, 18-25.

SWC stats were: Carlson � 5 P, 12 A, 6 K, 1 B, 4 D, 6 S-P; Melissa Olson � 6 P, 6 A, 3 K, 3 B, 2 D, 5 S-P; Michelle Olson � 5 P, 9 A, 3 B, 11 S-P, 1 ace; Odson � 1 A, 5 D, 13 assists, 6 S-P.

In the playoff round, the Tanagers faced Edgerton.

"The wily team had some tough servers and also presented the tallest middle of the day," Billberg said. "Facing a girl over the height of 6'3" can be intimidating. We figured out their attack scheme, but too late to make a viable run for a victory."

Team score: 15-25, 20-25.

The team had five blocks on defense, led by Melissa Olson and Britt Weydert with two each. Melissa also scored 13 A, 2 K, 4 D, and 4 sv pts; Weydert had 7 P, 4 A, 1 K and 4 sv pts; Odson contributed 10 set assists, 8 sv pts, 1 ace, and 3 D; Brittany Campbell and Michelle Olson each had 5 digs to lead the defense, Michelle also had a block and 16 pass points plus 12 A; Carlson registered 6 P, 15 A, 6 K, 4 D, and 6 sv pts.

"The Tanagers are not quite at the same level as the Minnesota teams, physically and mentally, so we have some work to do," Billberg said. "For the tournament as a whole, standouts include Melissa, who really found her offensive groove. Annie and Ellen continued their strong play and leadership toward taking us to the next level. We look forward to returning and playing the Minnesota teams again next weekend, as our mind-set is a little revenge."

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