Westby (14-8, 5-3) returned home on Tuesday, Sept. 26, against G-E-T, then traveled to Viroqua on Thursday, Sept. 28. The Norse came up short against the Red Hawks falling in five. They turned it around against the Blackhawks picking up the win.
G-E-T 3, Westby 2
The Red Hawks (4-4) were able to edge Westby in five hard fought sets, 19-25, 25-16, 24-26, 25-19, 15-13. Serving errors spelled Westby’s demise against G-E-T.
Westby started out slow, down 7-3, before tying the game up at 9-9. From that point on Westby stayed one step ahead of the Red Hawks winning 25-19, despite seven bad serves in the game. Michaela Grabowski and Eva Lee combined for seven kills. Jada Berra was the dig leader in this set with 4 of the team’s 10 digs.
Westby lost the second set 16-25. The Norse serving continued to lack consistency and defense and offense couldn’t seem to find open spots on the floor to get the kills needed to stop G-E-T, who did a good job of hitting past Westby blockers. Jessi Marshall was Norse kill leader with four, Berra was the dig leader with seven, followed by Kenzie Von Ruden with five.
Midway through the third game communication and enthusiasm finally returned as the Norse rallied back to pick up the 26-24 win. Westby had 14 kills in set 3. VonRuden was the kill leader with five, followed by Marshall with four. Berra was solid in the back row racking up 15 of the team’s 26 defensive digs.
Momentum was nowhere to be found in set 4 and combined with poor serving the Norse fell 19-25 forcing the tiebreaker. Grabowski picked up half of the team’s kills with five, followed by Lauren Berg and Kiarra Keenlance with four assists each. VonRuden racked up eight ot the team’s 20 digs.
A win was not in the cards for the Norse as the Red Hawks started out up by five, before Westby tried to rally back, but never could pull ahead. VonRuden had a strong showing with four of the team’s nine kills.
The Norse lost the tiebreaker 13-15, dropping the Coulee Conference match 3-2. For G-E-T on the night: Sophie Severson had 15 kills, Jordan Hein 45 assists and Ciera Gunderson had 25 digs to spark G-E-T.
Head Coach Jenny Luebke said Westby struggled with momentum and over all sluggish play, which has been its nemesis this season.
“This was a hard loss for us since we beat them earlier in the season. It was our first home game in almost three weeks, so losing at home was hard. We need to play upbeat for our team to gel and to keep our fast paced play,” Luebke said.
Westby 3, Viroqua 0
Westby (15-8, 6-3) looked like a new team when they traveled to Viroqua winning three straight sets 25-22, 25-20, 25-17 on Thursday, Sept. 28.
Grabowski led the Norse with 14 kills and five blocks, Keenlance added 12 assists and Berra 12 digs for Westby.
Claire Anderson led Viroqua (7-11, 1-7) with 16 assists, while Ivy Shanka had 13 digs.
Westby was rock solid serving in the first set never missing, but nothing came easy for the Norse. The Blackhawks were down 24-18, but rallied back with four straight offensive points before Westby pulled out the 25-22 win. Grabowski had a trio of kills; Berra led digs with six, followed by Marshall with five.
The Norse let their guard down a couple of times in the second set and each time they did Viroqua found a way to tie up the match at points, 12, 18 and 20. Westby used some sound serving by Keenlance, good defensive kills by Grabowski and strong back row digs to pick up the next four straight points after the 20-20 tie. With the Norse leading 24-20, Viroqua called a time out to break the Norse momentum, but the plan backfired when they gave Westby the win after re-entering the game with a rotation error. The Norse won 25-20.
Luebke said the crowd was amazing and helped keep the team pumped.
“The gym had so much energy and the fans were great! It is so much fun to play in a loud gym even though communication can be difficult when the air is electric,” Luebke said.
Westby kept its momentum flowing in the final set with a 25-17 win and overall 3-0 match victory. Luebke said she was impressed with the girls ability to spread the ball around in the final set with good sets and solid hitting. The Norse had 10 kills, with Grabowski racking up half of them. Westby hitters teamed together to put some hard driven balls down on the court which bolstered the crowd’s enthusiasm. Defensively Westby also had 13 digs and Grabowski had a pair pf solo block kills.
“We played like the team we are meant to be with fire and passion,” Luebke said. “The team had a long talk about what we needed to do to end the season strong as we are headed for playoffs. The girls know that they feed off of each other’s positive energy and play with much more spark when that energy exists. We need to stay focused and pumped up.”
Westby hosted West Salem in its Homecoming match on Oct. 5 and hosts Black River Falls on Tuesday, Oct. 10.