On the night Coon Rapids honored its 1978 state volleyball championship team, Elk River proved too tall of a task by winning a Northwest Suburban Conference game 3-1 Sept. 19.
The Elks came out strong in the first set and built a 2-0 lead winning the first two sets 25-21 and 25-23, although the score was closer than the match felt.
Elk River must not have been phased by the unique gamesmanship played by Coon Rapids during warm-ups. Instead of the thumping pop music typical of a volleyball warm-up mix tape, the Cardinals stuck with the old classics, going back to Bach to set the mood. While the Cardinals had a final pregame talk away from the gym, the Elks bumped, set and spiked to the orchestral music before the “Harlem Shake” hit the speakers when the Cardinals took to the floor.
Both teams came into the match winless in the conference and Elk River left the court with a decisive 3-1 win.
Cardinals second-year head coach Scott Arcand said his team improved over the final two sets but just couldn’t get that decisive point when it counted the most.
“I’m happy with the way they came back in the third set. It’s a good sign,” Arcand said. “This was the best match we’ve played and we know we still have room to improve.”
Coon Rapids came out fiercely in the third set, looking to prevent the sweep or at least extend the outcome.
The Cardinals didn’t allow the Elks to take an insurmountable lead as in the first two sets.
Coon Rapids fell behind 14-9 at one point in the third set, but came back and went on a 6-1 run to tie the score at 15-15.
Cardinals outside hitter Hannah Fitzer played a big role in keeping rallies going and finishing them off.
Down 11-14, Fitzer pounded the ball onto the Elks side of the court in what was an emotional swing for the home side. Senior Alexis Barmon tied the set at 15 with a kill shot to the middle of the floor.
Tied 18-18, Barmon had back-to-back ace serves to build the lead to 20-18.
Junior hitter Jessica Hegg had consecutive kill shots down the left side to make it 22-21 and Fitzer tipped the ball over a block to for a set-point scenario.
An unforced error from Elk River gave the Cardinals the set win.
Coon Rapids took its first lead in the fourth and final set at 17-16, but couldn’t sustain the edge as the Elks went on a 9-6 run to end the match.
Elks coach Theresa Brummer said the errors have proven fatal at times, so it was nice to keep it together for a win on the road.
“It was still messy,” she said as she came out with an entirely new lineup that helped them improve to 1-3 in the NWSC. “But this is a game of errors and sometimes its better to be smarter than hit harder and we’re learning that now because we’ve been in nearly all of our games,” Brummer said.
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