by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Fierce blocking by Anoka turned the tide as the Tornadoes sent the Elk River Elks to their first defeat., 25-21, 25-14, 14-25, 25-17, on Thursday evening.
The first game was tied 20-20 at ERHS before Anoka’s taller front line scored three straight points on blocks. The Tornadoes (3-1) took that game and dominated the next.The Elks (4-1) won game three with strong serving but Anoka cruised in game four.
Tornado coach Chris Fenwick said he called timeout during the close first game and told his team if they could make some blocks they would win. His challenge was answered.
“After that you could see they (the Elks) were going over our blockers and starting to miss,” said Fenwick. “Our height took over.”
The Elks were coming off an emotional five-game win at Centennial on Tuesday, the program’s first win over the Cougars in 10 years.
“We didn’t have the fire tonight we usually have,” said coach Pam Gothe. “The win at Centennial was huge, but really, this was more important because Anoka is a section team, too.”
Anoka was hitting both smart and hard, with Mikayla Hong and Kelci Green notching nine kills each, Kassi Green eight and Megan Lindenfelser six. They were finding openings in the middle and down the side time after time.
Gothe said the Elks felt they could take Anoka out of their game by serving aggressively and swinging the ball around for outside attacks.
“They had the same middle players last year and we beat them,” she said. “But we didn’t have it tonight.”
They did fire off a few good serves. Austyn Beese and Rachel Anderson each served three aces and Lindsey Lowe two in the match.
In the Elks 25-14 win, Fenwick said, “They were serving some bullets and we could not handle them.”
Kara Ziemer led the Elks with 15 kills and 19 digs. Lindsey Low made eight kills, Janell Finkbeiner seven and Beese four. Anderson made 14 digs.
The Elks will play at Champlin Park on Tuesday.