Augusta spikers sweep Eleva-Strum, now 5-1 in Dairyland
AUGUSTA - Like dangling a carrot.
Certainly the Augusta High School volleyball team did not expect to be in contention for the Dairyland Conference title at this point in the season but to be so, especially after sweeping league rival Eleva-Strum 3-0 Thursday, Sept. 29 in their Homecoming match, is as good a reason as any for the Beavers to continue their strong efforts in league play where they have a 5-1 record.
"More than anything we've just wanted to do better than we have the past few seasons," senior Sam Winsce said. "It's nice but we just want to keep improving with each match. That's our focus."
And if AHS does so they'll remain in contention with four games left to play in its league schedule. But the task will not be easy with upcoming matches against team in the top-half of the league at Lincon Tuesday, Oct. 4; vs. Alma/Pepin on Thursday, Oct. 16, at Cochrane-Fountain City Tuesday, Oct. 11 and at home for the regular season finale vs. Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran. Plus, the Beavers will need a little help as they ahve alreayd lost to league-leading Blair-Taylor while Immanuel and B-T still have to play each other. Augusta can't afford any more losses.
"It's nice to have the opportunity but Blair-Taylor is a very good team and they'll be tough to knock off," Augusta head coach Emily Madden said, using the carrot analogy. "Obviously the situation will motivate us but I want our players to move forward just continuing to work to get better and being consistent and if it's leads to something good, it's a bonus."
The search for consistency from the Beavers, 8-10 overall, is due to the fact their season has been what Madden, in her first season as head coach, "like a roller coaster". AHS has veteran roster with many seniors on it and finished 6-4 in the DC a year ago but Madden is their third coach in three seasons and the team was basically getting a new start according to Winsce. It started slow, has risen and peaked at times but also taken big dips, like the Eleva-Strum Invitational two weekends ago where they went 1-4.
"This week in practice I told them I still had plenty and confidence and love for them to know that even though we got off track we can get back on right away," Madden said.
That's why it was important for the Beavers put together three-game sweeps last week. AHS first went on the road and wiped out Melrose-Mindoro 25-18, 25-20, 25-22 on Tuesday, Sept. 27. They won the first two games vs. the Cardinals by identical 25-19 scores but needed to surge late both times as Central, 7-17 overall and 2-5 in the conference, played them very close, coming back both times after AHS grabbed early leads. The same happened in Game 3 after a kill by Annika Skoug made the score 12-10 Beavers after they once led 10-5. But Winsce stepped up, scoring four kills while the Beavers also got an ace from junior Olivia Meyer and a kill from senior Emma Lee to go on a 13-4 run.
"We had a lot of seniors step up their play tonight," Madden said. "Aleah Kading, Piper Waugh, Anna Shakal really played well. That's important in building up our depth and not having to depend on just a handful of players who are very good but just like everyone get fatigued during the match and you get more balance scoring and other things like digs and assists so defenders just can't key on one or two players."