Orono High School volleyball fans have gotten their money’s worth on the price of admission so far this season. With six matches in the books, the Spartans have yet to be part of a three-game sweep on either the winning or losing end.
Despite the team’s 2-4 record as of Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Spartans have been competitive in all six matches. Four of those matches have gone to four games, while two other matches have gone the maximum five games.
One of those marathon matches came on Monday, Sept. 9, when the Spartans fell in a dramatic fifth game to Minneapolis Southwest by a score of 19-17. While a win would’ve been nice, Spartans first-year head coach Lindy Lee was pleased with her team’s effort.
“I think the biggest thing is that they are playing really cohesively now,” Lee said. “We’ve had a few injuries so we’ve been managing that and I think coming off those injuries, they’re doing a really good job.”
The two teams were tied at 15 in the opening game when the Lakers won six straight points to seize control. Orono senior right-side hitter Josie Peterson had three kills, a block and an ace in game one, but the Lakers prevailed 25-20.
Orono jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the second game behind strong serving from eighth-grade setter Isabelle Torve.
After the Lakers fought their way back to make the game competitive, the Spartans played better down the stretch and earned a 25-19 victory to even the match at one game apiece.
The back-and-forth nature of the match continued in game three as the Lakers capitalized on seven service errors by the Spartans to claim game three 25-17.
The Lakers appeared to have all the momentum and looked ready to close out the match when they jumped out to a 12-5 lead in game four, but the Spartans rallied behind the play of senior middle-hitter Sydney Pieper.
After recording just two kills in the first three games combined, Pieper provided a spark with four kills during a critical time in the match to help rally the Spartans.
Two kills apiece by Josie Peterson and senior outside-hitter Abigail Kahn late in the game gave the Spartans a 25-16 victory and sent the match to a deciding fifth game.
After winning 20 of the final 24 points in game four, the Spartans looked poised to win game five, but it wasn’t meant to be.
The Spartans had a match point up 14-13 in game five, but the Lakers were able to fend that off and eventually recorded the 19-17 victory.
Josie Peterson led all players with 16 kills, while Pieper finished with 10 kills. Kahn and juniors Mary Peterson and Brynn Peterson all chipped in with six kills apiece.
Torve, the only non-junior or senior on the varsity roster, had a solid performance from the setter position.
“She’s just an eighth-grader so we’re really excited to have her and watch her grow within the program,” Lee said.
Torve was perhaps the team’s most aggressive server, a trait that Lee is looking to instill in the program across the board.
“We have an aggressive serving scheme,” she said. “That’s one of our offensive strategies — we will use serving to score points and not just to start rallies.”
The Spartans will look to serve up a few more victories next week when they travel to Monticello on Tuesday, Sept. 17, before returning home to host Delano on Thursday, Sept. 19.