Solid tourney follows long week for FL volleyball

Kat Ladwig
Sports Editor

Ranger volleyball went 3-3 last week, losing their home game against Elk River last Tuesday and falling to East Ridge on Thursday before finishing the week with a strong 3-1 record at the Duluth East Invite.

Senior captain Hanna Morris had a stellar serving night in the 3-1 loss to Elk River. She went 15/15 with two aces and five kills with just one hitting error. Morris’s performance is reflective of the success that Ranger volleyball has experienced behind the line this year.

“We have served very well as a team,” head coach Sherri Alm said. “It certainly helps to keep other teams out of system, but we need to work on when it is okay to go for it, and when we need to make it in.”

Elk River proved too quick on the receive, though. In the effort against the Elks, Forest Lake senior and captain Miranda Haug put away eight kills and six blocks, while junior Mariah Daninger recorded seven kills and six blocks. Senior setter Brenna Blake also contributed with 18 setting assists.

“We did not move quick enough to keep up with Elk River,” Alm said.

On Thursday, the Rangers managed to record impressive numbers in the 3-1 loss to East Ridge, in which two of Forest Lake’s captains, seniors Dani Galvez and Haug, were sidelined with injuries. Senior Katelin Kruger dug 23 attacks from the hard-hitting Raptors, while Blake converted the solid Ranger backrow into 34 set assists. Junior Caitlin Freer stepped up to record nine kills and two blocks. Daninger also had nine kills and three blocks.

“Hopefully the team recognized they can play with these hard-hitting teams,” Alm said. “But it is disappointing to win the first set and shut down for two before we battle again– we need intensity throughout the match.”

The Rangers brought that intensity with them to Duluth over the weekend, where the team improved its overall record to 7-10 on the season.

Forest Lake breezed past Barnum in pool play 25-14, 25-15 even with Galvez still sidelined and Morris injuring her hand in set one.

Serving was another strength for the Rangers. Senior setter Rachel Shumaker served at 100 percent with five aces, and sophomore Emily Lindstrom was solid at 92 percent with three aces.

The Rangers lost a tough one 23-25, 11-25 to North Branch to finish up pool play. Middle hitters led the team in kills, Haug and Daninger had four and three, respectively.

Forest Lake came back to finish strong in tournament play, first taking Duluth East to three and winning 25-22, 19-25 and 17-15. Daninger led the offense again along with senior Chelsie Bethke as both had seven kills and no errors with a .700 kill efficiency. Shumaker recorded 15 set assists.

In the final match of the day against Grand Rapids, the Ranger squad pulled out another exciting match in three, winning 25-21, 21-25, 15-9.

Haug had a strong offensive showing and led the team with nine kills while hitting .500, while junior Abby Furry came up big with seven kills. Lindstrom recorded another six kills, while Freer and Chelsea Lautiger each added four. Kruger anchored the defense with 16 digs.

“The team really played with heart and intensity, something that has lacked on occasion,” Alm said. “I am very excited to see that pick up, and we minimized our errors and played smart. This is where I expect us to be every match.

The Rangers faced White Bear Lake on Tuesday night at home, and play again in Forest Lake tonight, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. against Park.

Starting next week, the Ranger squad has three more regular-season games before the Rochester Century Invite on Oct. 9-20, then sections start the following Thursday. Alm said there are three themes she wants her girls to focus on for the remainder of the season.

“Consistency, playing with fire and heart, and limiting our errors,” Alm said. “We hope to continue to get more comfortable with a constant rotation that allows us to work and move together seamlessly.”