EVELETH — The Golden Bears got a solid performance across the board Tuesday to defeat North Woods and net their first victory of the season, 3-1 (25-16, 25-15, 21-25, 25-17).
Looking at the score sheet after the match, E-G head coach Beth Bittmann was pleased to see so many of her players being involved.
“The key is that we’re such a balanced team. I can throw a lot of different kids in there and they’ll get the job done.’’
Emma Westby led the offensive attack with 10 kills, Emily Kemp added six and Mikayla Kibbe added five more.
Engineering the offense was Maggie Landwer with 26 set assists, while Payton Dosan scored six aces from the service line for the Bears.
Despite getting the win, Eveleth-Gilbert started out the match a bit slowly as North Woods raced out to an 8-2 lead behind the kills of Coley Olson and Tori Olson and a big block from Hannah Kinsey.
E-G went down 12-5 before starting their comeback. Three straight miscues by the Grizzlies made it 12-8 and Westby’s strong hitting helped tie things up at 13-13. An ace by Ashley Pionk and kills by Afton Roberts and Kemp extended the lead to 20-14 and the Bears never looked back. Kemp added another kill and Dosan served up an ace to help close out game one, 25-16.
North Woods again took a 4-1 lead in game two before E-G came storming back. Dosan, Kemp and Kibbe all chipped into to make it 5-5. Two more miscues by the Grizzlies were followed by an Avery Dolinsek ace and a kill by Brooke Thyen to make it 10-8.
The Grizzlies’ Karlyn Pierce was stout at the net with blocks and kills, but E-G was too much in a 25-15 game two win.
North Woods stepped it up in game three and came back from an 8-4 deficit. Pierce, Kayla Tschida and Kenzie Fox controlled the contest as the visitors came back to take a 13-10 lead. Roberts and Pionk got things tied up at 14-14 before Pierce and Coley Olson paced the Grizzlies to the 25-21 game three victory.
Leading 2-1 going into game four, the Golden Bears hoped to put the contest away.
They proceeded to do just that behind the serving of Dosan and the hitting of Westby, Kemp and Thyen. McKendrick Landwer and Cadyn Krmpotich showed their skills in closing out the 25-17 game three win with a pair of late kills.
“It was nice to get our first ‘W’ of the season and give the girls a little confidence,’’ Bittmann stated. “We’ve been struggling to get that first ‘W.’ We’ve played a lot of teams tight. We’ve gone 4-5 games with them and just haven’t been able to pull it out. I’m hoping that this will push our girls a little bit and give them the confidence they need to finish a game.’’
The first-year coach credited E-G’s five seniors (Dosan, Westby, Dolinsek, Pionk and Kibbe).
“Those are five seniors that get a lot of playing time and it’s nice to have that leadership on the floor. They all played really well tonight. Avery Dolinsek has been serving really well for us. I’m really excited about that.’’
McKendrick Landwer, Kibbe and Maggie Landwer stood out Tuesday and throughout the season.
“She (McKendrick) played a really good game for us. She’s our libero. She’s only a sophomore and I kind of threw her into that position a couple weeks ago and she has just blossomed with that spot.’’
“Mikayla Kibbe is playing a nice right side for us in the front row. Not too many hitters can hit the ball hard on that side. That’s her spot. She’s not used to being a right side hitter. She played middle last year. It just shows how athletic she is adjusting to that spot.’’
Regarding Maggie Landwer, the coach said she switched from a 6-2 to a 5-1 tonight, which forced the junior to play front row all the way around. “She did a fantastic job setting in the front row and blocking, as well.’’
Her team still needs to work on passing, though.
“Our passing still has a long way to go’’ and it is worked each day in practice. “When we pass the ball, our hitters put it away. So that’s the key for us if we can get our passing game in check.’’
North Woods was fueled by Coley Olson with 11 kills and 12 set assists; Tori Olson tallied 21 digs, Pierce had seven blocks, Olivia Udovich came up with 16 set assists and Fox served up five aces.
Mountain Iron-Buhl 1
At Mountain Iron, the MI-B volleyball team ran into some trouble Tuesday night at home, falling to visiting Cromwell-Wright 3-1 (25-15, 21-25, 25-5, 25-15).
McKinley Kvas was the leading attacker for the Rangers, finishing with seven kills.
Paris Pontinen put up 11 set assists. Miah Gellerstedt had six digs and three aces, Mia Ganyo had five digs and Jordan Zubich finished with a pair of blocks.
Mountain Iron-Buhl will be back on the court on Thursday when they travel to Eveleth-Gilbert.
Silver Bay 0
At Ely, the Timberwolves volleyball team got a 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-9) sweep over Silver Bay Tuesday on their home court.
McKenna Coughlin was the leading attacker for Ely with 13 kills. Brielle Kallberg finished with seven kills as well as seven ace serves.
McCartney Kaercher set up 26 set assists and served up four aces, Erika Mattson finished with six kills, while Jenna Merhar tallied five.
Ely volleyball will take on Mesabi East on Thursday in Aurora.