Sarah Walters’ first timeout had zero positive impact.
The second one turned the tide.
Walters used every tool in her coaching toolbox to guide the Tomah Timberwolves to a 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-13 victory over Holmen in a Mississippi Valley Conference girls volleyball match Thursday at Tomah High School.
It was Tomah’s first victory over Holmen, last year’s defending MVC co-champion, since 2016.
Walters burned both of her timeouts in the fifth game during a run when Holmen transformed a 9-6 deficit into a 12-10 lead. She wasn’t sure why the second timeout was more effective than the first. She attributed the comeback to her girls’ determination to atone for a disheartening loss at Sparta 48 hours earlier.
“On Tuesday, we were not happy with our play,” Walters said. “The girls were not focused, and we had a lot of talk about that.”
A net violation and two hitting errors put Tomah back on top 13-12, and a tip kill by Alyssa Whaley got Tomah to match point.
Holmen stayed alive after Chloe Hammond pounded a kill, but Tomah won the match on the next point. Savannah Murphy had to reach for a kill attempt, and while she wasn’t able to generate much leverage on the hit, she directed it to a vacant spot on Holmen’s side of the floor to end the match.
Murphy led the Tomah hitting attack with 20 kills and three blocks. Ella Plueger led the setters with 25 assists, Lily Redcloud popped 18 digs from the libero position, and Whaley added 10 kills.
Walters said the Timberwolves were better at “talking, communication and moving” than they were at Sparta.
“Our front line really did a nice job of putting up our blocks, which allows our defense to play defense and not play in two different spots,” she said.
The Timberwolves evened their MVC record at 1-1.
“They were very determined tonight to play their best volleyball,” Walters said. “That was their best volleyball. They gave it all they had. They fell behind a few times, but they just kept pushing.”
Lexie Jeffers led Holmen (1-1 in the MVC) with 13 kills as Marissa Pederson (24 assists) and Lynsey Anderson (15 assists) split the setting duties.
Holmen libero Ellie Kline recorded 24 digs, and Pederson and Anderson both had three service aces.
The Timberwolves travel to Onalaska Tuesday before hosting La Crosse Aquinas Thursday, Sept. 12. The varsity reserve and junior varsity contests start at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity at 7 p.m.
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at email@example.com.