Two Tri-County Area prep volleyball teams win in WIAA regional tournament action

Three area teams to compete in regional semifinals on Thursday

Three Tri-County Area prep volleyball teams will compete in the semifinals of WIAA regional tournament this Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.

Two of them, Osseo-Fairchild and Eleva-Strum, did so by winning first-round contests Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Osseo-Fairchild won its 17th straight match by a three-game sweep of No. 14 seed Melrose-Mindoro at home by scores of 25-16, 25-15, 25-10. Brooke McCune led O-F with 20 kills and six aces. The No. 3 seeded Thunder are 26-2 overall.

In Division 4, No. 3 seed Eleva-Strum also won by sweep, taking out Dairyland Conference foe ACHM Lincoln 3-0 at Central. The Cardinals roared out to a great start in Game 1, dominating Lincoln by a 25-10 score. However, the Hornets competed harder in Games 2 and 3, forcing E-S, 11-14 overall, to exert the effort but also the composure to eventually beat back Lincoln's efforts.

"We were very disappointed in the way we played at Melrose-Mindoro last week," Eleva-Strum head coach Katie Skoug said. "We had played a lot of matches in a short period of time, some of them five-set matches, and we just didn't play with a lot of energy at times and had an off night and lost. But I appreciated the way our players came back in practice soon afterward and wanted to perform better and they showed it at the start of tonight's match. And they also kept their composure and made the plays the needed to to win when Lincoln really fought back and made things tight throughout the second and third game."

Good performances were put in by the Cardinal seniors Paige Hanner, Madison Schultz and their go-to performer, senior Grace Clark. Hanner scored the winning kill to win Game 3 and the match set up by Clark.

"Grace is a great player because she's willing to sacrifice the stats like kills for example if it makes the team better and lifts the team, Skoug said. "She puts as much in to make good sets and go after digs and vise-versa for the rest of the team to her and just works so well like that. I think Madison and Paige have really improved their games this season And I appreciate all our seniors, Karsyn Putzy, our libero Avery Larrabee, Neava Bestul as well, for really setting that standard of leadership and character."

The win was the Cardinals' fifth in their last six matches. The team started out 4-12 midway through the season to where they now, in the regional semifinal at Alma/Pepin Thursday at 7 p.m.

"I know we lost to them in league play 3-1 in rescheduled match on a Saturday morning, but I believe we match-up with them very well and we have a great opportunity to advance to the finals." Skoug said.

No. 3 seed Eleva-Strum is at No. 2 seed Alma/Pepin & No. 1 seed and 10th ranked Bangor hosts No. 4 seed Blair-Taylor in this regional tournament bracket. Osseo-Fairchild will hosts No. 6 seed Elmwood/Plum City who the Thunder swept in the Eleva-Strum Invitational back on Sept. 25 and the other half of the D-3 regional tournament bracket has No. 2 seed and No. 6 ranked La Crosse Aquinas hosts No. 7 seed Cashton. Aquinas finished second in the largely Division 1 populated Mississippi Valley Conference and are 26-5 overall led in assists by one of the school's top female athletes in Macy Donarski and spike leaders Jacy Weisbrod and Shealyn Bahr.

As the No. 1 seed of the Shell Lake Sectional half-bracket No. 3 ranked Fall Creek had Tuesday night off. The Crickets, 40-4 overall, return to action Thursday in a semifinal match-up with No. 8 seed Onalaska Luther while No. 5 seed Cochrane-Fountain City (sectional runner-up last season) is at No. 4 seed Westby. C-FC finished second in the Dairyland Conference behind ranked Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran while Luther finished with a winning record in the Coulee Conference at 7-4, 11-11 overall.

However the season concluded for Augusta on Tuesday evening at 7-14 overall. despite being a No. 13 seed the Beavers played No. 4 seeded Westfield in their Division 3 first-round match to five games after winning Game 4 by a 27-25 score. However, that left the Beavers vulnerable to counter-attack and when the Pioneers got off to a good start in Game 5 they were able to roll to a 15-5 win. The other game scores were 25-18, 19-25, 25-18. Augusta still finished above .500 in the Dairyland Conference at 6-4, tied for fourth with Eleva-Strum. The Beavers went 5-3 after a 3-11 record midway through the season.


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