Volleyball: Wingers fall in non-conference matchRed Wing can't sustain hot start as Hastings wins in a sweep Monday
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
Through a turbulent fall, the Red Wing volleyball team has shown glimpses of improvement. Against a struggling Hastings lineup in a non-conference game Monday, the Wingers showed some glimpses early on, holding a 3-1 lead in the first set.
But showing promise hasn’t been the problem this season. Sustaining that promise has been problematic for the Wingers, who dropped their 11th straight match with a 25-10, 25-17, 25-14 loss to the Raiders on Monday.
Inexperience has been one of the main reasons for Red Wing’s struggles, so head volleyball coach Heidi Ulwelling is trying to look for building blocks anywhere she can.
“There’s celebrating more,” Ulwelling said, “and there’s a little more emotion, which is what I’m trying to get out of them.”
On Monday, the Wingers (4-18) had a lot to celebrate after winning three of the match’s first four points, eventually holding a 6-3 lead after a serve-receive error by Hastings. But the Raiders (5-8) recovered, tying the match at six. Hastings’ momentum continued for the rest of the set as the Raiders won 19 of the next 23 points to take the first set in convincing fashion.
“They were able to put it together and there was more excitement on the floor,” Ulwelling said about the Wingers’ start. “The communication was a little bit better. It was sketchy, of course, when things didn’t go our way.”
Hastings went up 3-0 in the second set, and never trailed on the way to a 25-17 second-set victory and a 2-0 advantage in the match.
All night, the Raiders pushed Red Wing to the back of the court, hampering the Wingers’ attempts to set a consistent offensive game. Mary Anthony had a team-high 16 digs, while McKenna Schaffer added 14 digs to try and solidify the Wingers’ back row.
“The ability for us to continue the volley and make it competitive for our offense is what we’re struggling with right now,” Ulwelling said. “From the statistics, it’s going well, but we have our lulls like what would happen with any other team.”
Red Wing and Hastings were tied at four in the third set before the Raiders took control with a 10-5 lead. The Wingers cut the deficit to 12-10 following a hitting error by Hastings before the Raiders scored 10 of the next 11 points to secure the sweep.
Pacing Red Wing’s offense was freshman Olivia Brown, who finished with eight kills. Anthony had four kills, and Sara O’Keefe finished with seven set assists.
Still looking for their first win since Sept. 8, the Wingers return to Missota Conference play Thursday at Northfield (9-7, 2-2 Missota).
With a few positives to reinforce during practice, and the return of middle hitter Sydney Book from injury, Ulwelling is hoping to have some of her team’s improvements pay off with four games left in the regular season.
“We’ve seen some positives that we’ll work on,” Ulwelling said, “and I’m glad we’re healthy again.”