9/26/2013 4:08:00 PM North Branch splits M8C matches
by JEFF NORTON
North Branch 3, St. Francis 1 The Vikings continued their strong season with a 3-1 win over St. Francis last week. The Fighting Saints have always been a thorn in the side for North Branch, so to get the win was a big indicator of the so far 9-2 season. St. Francis looked like they might be their typical pesky self in the first set. They took an early lead and no matter what attack the Vikings tried, the Saints managed to stay just one step ahead of them en route to a 25-22 victory in the opening set. However, North Branch came out for the rest of the match with an absolute killer instinct. They dominated St. Francis 25-14 in the second set to even the match at one set apiece. In the third and fourth set, it was much of the same. The Vikings put constant pressure on St. Francis’ block and defense and they forced them to make mistakes. North Branch won the third set 25-16 and the fourth set 25-15 to move their record to 9-1 going into a showdown with defending Mississippi 8 Conference champion and current leader St. Michael-Albertville.
St. Michael-Albertville 3, North Branch 0 The Vikings inexperience showed against the talented Knights. North Branch was the one on the receiving end of the constant pressure, and they didn’t respond well. The Knights won the first set, a fairly close affair, 25-20. But, after that, it turned into a clinic on the part of St. Michael. The Knights won the second set 25-12 as the Viking offense was unable to get anything going, and they finished the sweep with a 25-14 shellacking in the third set. The Vikings hosted another tough M8C opponent in Rogers earlier this week, before traveling to old foe Totino-Grace for a non-conference showdown with the Eagles on Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.