by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
The Rogers Royals showed two commodities they’ve been lacking, height and intensity, as they outlasted Elk River 25-18, 25-20, 18-25, 25-19 in the season opener for both Tuesday evening in Elk River.
“I liked that we showed emotion and had intensity. Usually we are kind of short of those,” said coach Joyelle Knoblach. “The girls were stomping on floor and getting excited. We actually practice that … if you want to do that, you have to practice it. We’ll spend 15 seconds screaming and stomping in practice.”
The Royals out-hit and out-blocked the Elks, too.
“We’ve got some height now, too, and that helps,” the coach said.
Theresa Brummer, new Elk head coach in her debut, said she was “pleased with our overall play, and how we came together our first time out.” She acknowledged, “There were obviously a few glitches. They attacked with tips and we fell short on tip coverage, which is one thing we practice, because we have some height so we know they are going to hit around us.”
Maleia Ysteboe notched 15 kills, Lindsey Dorr eight and Erika Folk seven for Rogers. Dorr also made six soloo blocks. Baylee Waldhnoff made 36 assists. Jessica Kolles served 16-for-18 with four aces.Tiffany Smith made 23 serve receivesand 24 digs.
The Elks most exciting moment came in game four when, down 13-9, a spike by Ysteboe down the middle appeared to be a kill but to everyone’s surprise, the ball was still in play, and Kaitlyn Pearson of the Elks drilled it over the net and over the celebrating Royals, just inside the back line, for a point.
“The ball hit Becca Brummer’s foot, and somebody got it up, and I hit it over,” explained Pearson.
The Elks, energized, pushed ahead 16-15, but the Royals regained control, helped by some big plays from the 6-foot Dorr: a stuff block for the 19th point, a kill for the 20th, and two serves the Elks couldn’t handle for 23 and 24.
Kelly Kolles had 11 kills and Geneva Kachinske and Kennedy Strain seven each for the Elks, who had 40 kills but 31 hitting errors.
Kelsey Owens made 35 assists and served 17-for-17 with three aces. Kachinske and Sydney Wentland had two aces each. The Elks were 75-for-83 at the stripe with eight aces. Strain had five blocks (three solo). Brummer made 26 serve receives. Kayla Grimm had 15 digs and Kachinske 12.
Rogers served 84-for-90 with nine aces, and made 36 kills against 19 hitting errors.
The Elks will play at North Branch on Thursday and the Royals will host Maple Grove.