Westby traveled to West Salem on Tuesday, Sept. 12 and Black River Falls on Thursday, Sept. 14. In each match the Norse took it to the fifth game, but came up short both times. Then on Saturday, Sept. 16, the Norse participated in the Baraboo Invite downing Mauston and Lancaster, but fell to Richland Center, Baraboo and McFarland.
West Salem 3,Westby 2
All five sets with West Salem were nip and tuck, but the Panthers prevailed for the win 23-25, 25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 20-18. Westby took sets one and four, while West Salem won sets two, three and five.
In set 1, the Norse communicated well, scrambled hard, worked together and had great backrow defense to pick up the win. In the set Kiarra Keenlance, Jessi Marshall and Michaela Grabowski each had a pair of kills, Marshall had six digs and Lauren Burg had four assists.
In sets 2 and 3, the Norse lost communication and a lack of front row blocking cost them back-to-back games. The back row worked hard to dig out the ball, but too many balls dropped and the offense was in the wrong position to set up strong offensive plays. Grabowski was the only Norse to get any kills and Miranda DelMedico and Jada Berra led the team with digs in both losses.
Westby rallied back in set 4 with better front line coverage, more kills, better digs and block kills, but still struggled with West Salem’s faster running offense.
Westby Head Coach Jenny Luebke had hoped Westby carried the momentum from the set 4 win into the tiebreaker, but that wasn’t in the cards. Kenzie Von Ruden had a pair of kills in the heavy defensive game, Norse serving was strong and Eva Lee and Grabowski each managed one block kill, but Westby fell 20-18, losing the overall match 3-2.
BRF 3, Westby 2
It took five games, but BRF held on to defeat Westby 15-25, 25-20, 25-19, 19-25, 15-13. It was like deja vu for Westby who won sets one and four, while BRF won sets two, three and five.
In set 1, Westby hitters were busy with 10 kills, with Von Ruden racking up four of them. BRF has two strong outside hitters and used them all night. Westby played strong on the front line, Grabowski had a trio of block kills and Berra and Marshall each had six digs to win the first set 25-15.
In sets 2 and 3, BRF came out much stronger and dominated from the outside. Westby struggled to set up plays, lacked communication and failed at blocking at the net, while the Tigers started hitting open spots on the Norse floor. Westby fell 25-20 and 25-29.
Westby rallied back in set 4, with nine kills, three of them by Elsa Luebke. The Norse regenerated its communication and moved the ball around. Berra dominated the back row with 12 digs, while Marshall had seven. Westby tied the match up with a 25-19 win.
In the tiebreaker Westby played catch-up to BRF, but fell short falling 15-13 in a tough fought set.
Luebke said both teams fought for the win and Westby went down swinging.
“We need to keep our chin up and keep working to improve. Westby needs to have better defense along the net so we are able to set up our offense,” Luebke said.
Mc Farland 2, Westby 0
Westby fell to Mc Farland, 25-18, 25-18. Luebke said McFarland is a fast team with hard hitters and Westby started off slow and struggled to gain momentum.
Westby 2, Mauston 1
The Norse came up short in set 1, falling 25-23, but fought back to win the next two sets, 25-13 and 18-16. Luebke said Westby played more aggressive in this match and a change in the rotation seemed to make a difference against Mauston.
Baraboo 2, Westby 0
After falling to Baraboo at the Holmen Invite the week before the Norse had hoped for sweet revenge this time around, but instead fell 25-7 and 25-17.
Luebke said Baraboo runs a fast offense and the Norse defense was not moving quick enough along the net. She said Westby played better in the second set, but a lack of communication on the floor was costly.
Richland Center 2, Westby 0
Mentally the team was never in its games with Richland Center, another strong volleyball team. Westby fell 25-7, 25-20.
Luebke said Westby’s slow start got the best of them. The got down mentally making it a struggle to get back in the game.
Westby 2, Lancaster 0
The Norse managed to generate some enthusiasm against Lancaster winning 25-12, and 25-22.
Westby worked the ball around the court much better than the other matches and had a strong serving performance in the final game of the day.
“It was a long hot day in the gym. We played some really tough teams, but we need to work on staying focused and not getting mentally down when we make more than a couple errors in a row,” Luebke said.
Westby travels to Arcadia on Sept. 19 and Onalaska Luther on Sept. 21.