Volleyball: Lake City starts strong, but fall to La CrescentTigers end the regular season on a downer after getting swept at home Tuesday
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
LAKE CITY – If teams had to score 20 points to win a set in volleyball, Lake City would have stood tall Tuesday with a 2-1 lead against La Crescent.
The problem for the Tigers: volleyball sets go up to 25.
Unable to hold on to late leads on Tuesday, Lake City ended the regular season on a sour note with a three-set home loss to the Lancers in Hiawatha Valley League play. The Lancers swept the match 25-21, 25-23, 25-23.
“We didn’t finish,” said Tigers head coach Kim Bobb. “We’ve been up and down like that all year. Sometimes we finish, sometimes we don’t.”
Lake City senior middle hitter Taylor Koller added, “I don’t know what happened. They just came back … we should have won those (sets), honestly.”
With just five HVL wins between the two teams, the Tigers (5-18, 3-10 HVL) opened the match strong, taking a 20-17 lead in the first set. But following a Lake City service error, La Crescent went on a four-point run to take a 21-20 lead. Tied at 21, consecutive kills by Jennifer Michalke, Alexa Merkl and Kristine Dunnum, and a hitting error by the Tigers gave the Lancers the come-from-behind victory in Set 1.
“They never gave up,” Bobb said of La Crescent. “It felt like we were in the game, but we just need to finish.”
With Koller leading the charge, the Tigers jumped out to another quick lead in the second set, going up 8-5.
“Their libero was really good, so I tried to stay away from her all night,” said Koller, who had 10 of her 12 kills in the first two sets. “I know the corners were open because Tiffanie (Hoops) told me they were open all game.”
Hoops, who led Lake City with 17 kills, got in on the offensive onslaught with three straight kills for the 17-11 advantage.
The Tigers held a 19-12 edge before losing the serve on a hitting error. From there, La Crescent’s momentum snowballed as the Lancers tallied the next six points, cutting the deficit to 19-18. Lake City appeared to regain its focus, going up 23-20, but thanks in large part to consecutive kills from Michalke, the Lancers won the next five points to win the set and take the 2-0 lead.
“I thought we played well, but La Crescent picked up everything,” Bobb said. “They just don’t die. They’re scrappy and they go after everything.”
La Crescent (12-12, 3-10 HVL) jumped out to an early lead in the third set before Lake City tied it up at 5. For the rest of the third set, the Lancers and Tigers traded punches to the tune of 10 ties and four lead changes.
Not only was La Crescent’s back row giving Lake City fits, but the block managed to slow down Koller, who was held to two kills in the final set.
“There was a point where I hit three in a row and they passed them all up,” said Koller, who also had four ace blocks. “They caught onto what I was doing.”
With the Tigers down 23-21, Hoops continued to crush the ball down the line, rattling off a pair of kills to tie the match at 23. But the Lancers scored the final two points, thanks to a kill from Jennifer Ingvalson and a Lake City hitting error to finish Tuesday’s match in a sweep.
“We’ve been in every game, but we can never seem to finish,” Bobb said. “I know we have a good team, you just can’t tell with our record.”
With section seedings being announced today, Bobb and the rest of the Tigers believe that if the team can just close out sets, they could serve as a spoiler in Section 1AA.
“I know people aren’t expecting a lot from us when they look at our record,” Bobb said. “If we come out ready to play, we’re going to be fine. Hopefully we can upset someone. That’d be nice.”