10/18/2012 9:53:00 AM Vikings topple Wildcats in county showdown
By JEFF NORTON
With the Chisago County football rivalry on hold for a year because of a scheduling gaffe and new section assignments, the main event of the fall rivalry was moved inside to the hardwood courts of volleyball instead of the tufts of green grass on the football field. And this one was as good as advertised. Heading into the match up, Chisago Lakes was 13-10 on the season, but had a 6-1 mark in the North Suburban Conference. North Branch, on the other hand, was 16-7, but a game behind the Wildcats in the NSC with a mark of 5-2. To cap it all off, the event was the two team’s annual Dig Pink event, with fundraisers from both schools provided a big donation for breast cancer research. The night started off well for North Branch. They jumped out to an early lead over the Wildcats in the first set. They had a boisterous fan section behind them and were doing well early. But, Chisago Lakes used a mid-set serving run to vanquish the Viking lead and take a small lead of their own. Throughout the rest of the first set, Chisago Lakes was just a step quicker and a point ahead. The Wildcats finished the set, winning 25-22. In the second set, North Branch fired their first salvo right back. They got out to another big early lead, only this time, they didn’t relinquish it. They kept the pressure on throughout the set and won it 25-11.
The Lady Vikes kept their momentum going in the third set. This time, Chisago Lakes got out to a bit of a lead early, but some deft serving by Emily Trunk and Annamarie Zack neutralized that lead. North Branch’s Tayler Fertig then started scoring some big points for the Vikings when she began to use a gallop to the net in the front row. The slight hitch in her steps disrupted the timing of CL’s block and Fertig was earning easy points. Behind those big points, the Vikings won the set 25-22, leaving them one set away from taking the match and the yearly rivalry. Of course, Chisago Lakes wasn’t going to go down easily. The junior trio of Sydney Powell, Tori Kildow and Bryanna Fernstrom wouldn’t let them. In the fourth set, Powell was attacking from everywhere. She had some crushing kills from the front row and some sneaky ones from the back row. Fernstrom, a southpaw, used her height and unorthodox swing to keep the North Branch block at bay, and Kildow was everywhere on the court with kills, blocks, digs and serve receives. Although the set was close as it wound down, Chisago Lakes pulled away at the end, winning 25-19 to send it into the fifth set and a race to 15. In the fifth set, the match is usually decided by who can get the faster start. When the teams are only playing to 15, the set goes quickly and a comfortable lead is key. North Branch took advantage of that fact and grabbed the early lead. Chisago Lakes was never able to get very close in the third set. Every time they made a run, North Branch answered with a point of their own and at the end, they pulled away, winning 15-8 in the set and 3-2 in the match.
Selbitschka led the Vikings with 13 kills and Jessica Merchant had 12. Fertig added 10 from the middle. Trunk added 33 assists on the night for North Branch. Powell led the Wildcats with 16 kills, Fernstrom had nine and Kildow had seven. Johnson had 25 assists and Emma Wilcox provided a spark off the bench with five aces. “We are finally starting to see some strings of postseason volleyball come out,” NB Head Coach Hayley Lang said after the match. “We still have to work on a lot of communication and getting our opponents out of systems, though.” The Dig Pink event was also a success, no matter who won the match. The North Branch team raised over $3,000 that will be donated to the Dig Pink organization. The athletes raised the money by selling t-shirts and getting pledges for a serving contest.