GALLERY: Volleyball sweeps Mahtomedi, SEC tests loom

Elly Capra (left) and Lindsey Johnson look to block a Mahtomedi attack. Abigail Groeneweg shows off her swing. Lindsey Lautigar (left) and Clara Olson connect for a block. Angela Denney plays defense. Elly Capra attempts a block. Abigail Groeneweg (left) and Lindsey Johnson defend the net. Elly Capra sets. Lindsey Johnson blocks. Abigail Groeneweg takes aim from the back row. Elly Capra serves. Angela Denney spikes.
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Elly Capra (left) and Lindsey Johnson look to block a Mahtomedi attack.

Photos by Brad O’Neil

The Forest Lake volleyball team got back above .500 after sweeping nonconference opponent Mahtomedi 25-21, 25-15, 25-17 on Sept. 12.

“We did a lot of good things,” head coach Sherri Alm said.

Senior Elly Capra got the Rangers off to a fast start with a five-point serving run to open the game, but the set was closely fought thereafter, with the Zephyrs working back to tie at 12-12. Junior Abigail Groeneweg put the Rangers back in front with a kill, one of 15 she would achieve during the match.

Further points by Groeneweg and junior Angela Denney built the lead back to 18-14 before Mahtomedi won a side-out.

“When we were feeding [Denney and Groeneweg], they were having trouble stopping us,” Alm said. “They both take care of the ball.”

Denney would finish the match with nine kills.

Senior Clara Olson earned eight kills, including two big spikes help the Rangers pull away late in the first set. Junior Ava Schmoll served out the last two points to clinch the set.

Mahtomedi led the second set 8-7 before a side-out and a pair of serving aces by senior Abby Bier took the Rangers back in front. The Rangers would run the score to 14-8 before the Zephyrs won the ball back.

Bier finished the match with three aces, trailing only Capra (four).

“We served pretty tough and caught them on their toes,” Alm said. “It was helpful for us to keep them off balance and not let them feed their big hitters.”

The Rangers quickly widened their lead to 20-10 en route to an easy set two win.

The Zephyrs again held early leads in set three, but could not keep pace with the Rangers over the long haul.

“We do well when we have the energy and communication, and the focus is on the floor,” Alm said. “When you have that, things start to go your way.”

Leading the way in digs were Schmoll (18), Groeneweg (14) and Denney (13). Capra made 26 set assists while junior Kaitlyn Bakke contributed seven.

The Rangers stood 5-4 at press time, with a trip to Chisago Lakes scheduled for late Monday. The Rangers began the Suburban East Conference section of their schedule on Tuesday against Park. The SEC is a power conference in volleyball – Stillwater and East Ridge are ranked in the Class AAA top ten, and Roseville made the state tournament last season.

“It’s kind of like our practice and our warmups are all done, so we have to show up and bring it every night because everybody [in the SEC] can play,” Alm said. “We aren’t going to able to show up and not be sharp.”

The Rangers will travel to White Bear Lake on Thursday before playing in the annual Duluth East tournament on Saturday.