by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River has depended heavily on its serving all season and got a couple of clutch performance at the stripe in squeezing out a 3-2 win over Champlin Park at home Tuesday evening.
Jordan Moening in game three and Kara Ziemer in game five turned the tide as Elks prevailed 25-21, 25-27, 26-24, 23-25, 15-10. Ziemer served the last seven points of the match.
“Kara has a tough, hard serve, and she got Champlin Park out of their system,” said Elk coach Pam Gothe. “They weren’t able to do what they wanted to do.”
The Elks didn’t have one of their better serving nights overall, making more errors (13) than aces (12), but came through twice.
In game three, with Champlin up 24-23, Moening quickly rang up three points to pull it out 26-24, the last two being aces that the Rebels got a hand on but couldn’t control.
In game five, with Champlin up 10-8, Ziemer calmly closed out the match. None in the streak were aces but the balls were placed judiciously with some zip, and the Rebels made several errors as the Elks pulled away.
“I just tried to put them in the right spot,” said Ziemer.
The 5-foot-8 junior outside hitter was a spark all around the rotation as led the Elks with 14 kills, served 15-for-15 with two aces, and tied Janel Finkbeiner for the lead in kills with 16.
“This was probably one of my better games,” she acknowledged.
The Elks, smaller than everyone they play, have been competitive nonetheless, with a 4-4 conference record and 12-9 overall.
“We are really connected,” said Ziemer. “We know we can hold it together when times get tough.”
The Elks bounced back from a tough weekend when they were 1-4 in an STMA tournament to win a conference match.
“Champlin Park is a team close to our ability and we really needed this one for conference,” said Gothe.
The Rebels (3-5 conference, 10-10 overall) did a great job blocking and digging, while one player in particular, outside hitter Taylor Goar, got the bulk of their kills.
“We told the girls, defend them tight on the net, and don’t let them get balls over you,” said Gothe. “I think we did a good job of that.”
Moening served 18-for-19 with seven aces. She almost pulled out game two as well, serving three aces in a 5-0 run that put her team ahead 23-20, but the Rebels countered to win that one 27-25.
Jayde Krauth added 13 kills. Finkbeiner had 24 assists. The other setter, Bailey Lundquist, had 16 assists and six kills. Rachel Anderson made 10 digs.
The Elks had senior night as this was the final regular-season home game. Still on the schedule are Anoka on Thursday, the Alexandria tournament on Saturday and Armstrong on Tuesday.