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Wildcat spikers drop 2 of 3

Wildcat senior libero Halle Barnabo reaches low to receive a serve in the Cats’ 3-1 loss to Osceola last Tuesday night at the high school. (River Falls Journal photos by Bob Burrows)

After sweeping Ellsworth in three games at home last Monday, the Wildcat volleyball team dropped a pair of four-game matches, Tuesday at home to Osceola and Thursday at Big Rivers Conference rival Eau Claire Memorial.

The Cats defeated Ellsworth 25-19, 25-16, 26-24 before taking the first game against Osceola the following night, 25-16. But a hitting slump hampered the Cats in the next three games and they fell to the Chieftains, 18-25, 16-25, 18-25.

Thursday the Cats lost at Eau Claire Memorial, 19-25, 18-25, 27-25, 19-25.

The Wildcats will host the River Falls Invitational Saturday, Sept. 21, beginning at 9 a.m.

Head coach Sara McDonald said last week started out on a high note with the win over Ellsworth.

“It was one we should have controlled and it was nice to see our team be able to finish a match in three,” McDonald said. “It was also nice to be able to play everyone. We have some young players that are new to varsity and we are excited about how they are developing. Sophomore Ali Slimak is an outside that brings solid passing as well as some consistent offense. Lucy Ley is a freshman that can hit a really heavy ball.”

Slimak contributed two kills in the win while Ley tallied one. Senior Amanda Rohl paced the Cats with seven kills and seniors Erin Robey and Megan Pechacek recorded six each. Pechacek led the defense with 11 digs and senior libero Halle Barnabo had nine while senior Izzy Shafer dished out 30 assists.

One night later the Cats posted a 25-16 victory in game one only to lose the next three, 18-25, 16-25, 18-25.

“We played some really good volleyball game one,” McDonald said. “We passed well which allowed for us to have excellent opportunities on offense.”

But after hitting at a 23 percent clip in game one, the Cats’ hitting percentage dropped to four percent over the next three.

“They were scrambling to make plays and then allowing us to make the mistakes,” McDonald said about Osceola. “This was also the first match that we have had more service errors than aces. Serving has been a strength of ours thus far this season, but it let us down against Osceola.”

Pechacek led the Wildcat offense with eight kills and Rohl and Robey contributed seven kills apiece while Shafer totaled 24 assists.

McDonald said the Cats made some changes to the lineup heading into Eau Claire Memorial in an attempt to plug some holes that the coaching staff felt would be easily exposed against better competition.

“The girls were not totally comfortable at first but began to settle in as the night went on,” she said. “It was not the changes but our execution that cost us this match.”

River Falls it just nine percent for the night, and despite collecting seven service aces, committed ten service errors that came back to haunt them.

“It is hard to get in to any type of rhythm with such little consistency on offense,” McDonald said. “The passing was solid but overshadowed with the hitting errors.”

Rohl had 15 kills in the loss and Pechacek finished with 12 while Shafer dished out 29 assists.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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