by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Down two games to none, the Elk River volleyball team dug in and generated their best attack of the season against St. Francis on Tuesday evening. The Elks came all the way back to defeat the Fighting Saints 21-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-17, 15-11 at home.
“We got our energy up. Everyone was excited and we were just all in together,” said Kennedy Strain, who notched the final two points with a stuff block and a kill.
“The first two games, we made little mistakes, stuff we were able to fix. We pulled it together the last three games. We just said, we are not going to lose another one.”
The Elks, who started the season 0-5, are now 5-7 after the non-conference win against a section rival.
“This was huge for us mentally,” said coach Theresa Brummer. “We really needed to do that, and I knew the girls could.”
The Elks uncorked a season-high 52 kills as Kelly Kolles rattled off 16, Strain 12, Gina Honek and Abi Scheid seven each, and Sidney Wentland five. Kelsey Owens provided 41 set assists. Strain and Scheid made five blocks each.
St. Francis (7-9) has a menacing middle blocker in 6-foot-3 Rachel Ulrich, who did some damage to the Elks, but later on the 6-foot-1 Strain and 6-foot-2 Scheid became more effective.
Becca Brummer, the Elks senior libero, did not play, after jarring her shoulder making a save during a win at Coon Rapids last week. Theresa Brummer said they’re hoping it’s just a sprain.
Filling in at libero was Kaitlyn Pearson, normally a defensive specialist. Pearson led with 30 serve receives and 14 digs. Kayla Grimm made 12 digs, Gabby Haack 11 and Owens 10.
The Elks overcame shaky serving (with 11 errors against seven aces). Grimm was 18-for-20 with three aces.
“Our serving picked up as the match went on,” said Brummer. “We missed a few crucial serves at the beginning.”
While upbeat about the comeback, the coach was concerned that the Elks once again had a slow start, a problem all year. “We have been trying to do a better job getting mentally and emotionally ready for the first game,” she said.
The Elks will play at Osseo on Thursday.