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A young Lakeland women's volleyball squad is showing promise early on this season, coming away from their opening tournament Friday and Saturday at Ripon College undefeated with a 4-0 record.
"I've told the girls that I'm not going to give them any excuses because they're young," said head coach Chad Schreiber. "We responded well and found ways to win."
Although the squad's play was a little shaky at times during the lengthy matches vs. Beloit and Eureka on Friday, the Muskies dug in and fought for both victories.
Against Beloit, sophomore Heidi Kramer was unstoppable at the net tallying 21 kills throughout the five-game match, lifting the Muskies to their first win of the season with scores of 33-31, 29-31, 27-30, 32-30 and 16-14.
Juniors Ashley Domask and Rachel Young also made strong contributions, with Domask recording 14 kills, 19 digs and Young adding 16 digs.
In Friday's second match the Muskies defeated Eureka 30-25, 30-26, 24-30 and 30-16. Kramer topped the kills column once again with 14 backed by freshmen Kim Linger and Brittanie Paulus, who knocked down ten and eight kills respectively. Paulus also showed her strength on the defensive end, leading the team in digs with 22 followed by Domask with 19.
"We let teams hang with us too much and we couldn't serve receive," commented Schreiber on Friday's matches.
However, the team was able to turn things around and refocus for Saturday's matches against host Ripon and former Lake Michigan Conference foe MSOE, emerging victorious from both matches and showing marked improvement.
First the Muskies took out Ripon in four games, 30-23, 27-30, 30-27 and 30-26. Junior Shelly Bruni showed strength in the middle on offense, coming away with a team-high 19 kills backed by Kramer and Linger who knocked down 11 apiece.
Sophomore setter Jessica Sparling, who was named to the All-Tournament team, recorded a personal tournament-high 63 assists while also adding four kills and seven digs on the match.
Young led the defensive drive with 14 digs aided by Domask and Paulus, who each totaled seven.
In Saturday's second match, the team deftly defeated MSOE in their shortest match of the weekend, 31-29, 30-25 and 30-26.
Bruni led the Muskies on the attack once again, knocking down 12 kills and chipping in four block assists. Freshman Kaylyn Kasper also produced a strong offensive showing, adding ten kills, while Sparling racked up 49 assists and five serving aces.
Domask turned in a strong all-around effort leading the team in digs with 15, while also adding nine kills and four serving aces.
"Our offense is a lot further along than I expected," said Schreiber. "I thought we would win with our defense and serve receive, but things really came together on offense. That's the kind of team we had last year."
Schreiber also had the added satisfaction of achieving success with different combinations of starters on the floor.
"Everyone played well. We had multiple starters and a different best player at different times. Our biggest strength all weekend was our serving."
Overall, Schreiber was encouraged by the way his team began their season. "It's great to see that we're a winning program even though two-thirds of our roster is new."
Next the Muskies will take on their first Northern Athletics Conference match, facing off against Edgewood on Tuesday, September 12 at 7 p.m. in Madison.