September 17, 2009 at 8:31 a.m.

North Branch crumbles as St. Francis rolls in NSC contest

North Branch crumbles as St. Francis rolls in NSC contest
North Branch crumbles as St. Francis rolls in NSC contest

Although the North Branch volleyball team had already secured their first conference win of the season in a 3-1 upset of Irondale, they were looking for more last week when they took on the Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights and the St. Francis Saints.

Benilde-St. Margaret's 3, North Branch 0

The first task of the week was to take on the always-challenging Red Knights. BSM made it especially tough on the Vikings when they raced out to a big lead in the first two sets and put them away fairly easily 25-19 and 25-15.

North Branch kept a more steady pace in the third set, but at that point, it was evident that Benilde was going to be too much for the Vikings at this early of a junction in their season. They succumbed 25-20 in the last set of the match, and Benilde finished the sweep quickly.

St. Francis 3, North Branch 0

Although they were swept again, the Vikings played a much tougher match against the Saints.

In the first set, North Branch jumped to an early lead when St. Francis had a tough time on the Vikings' service returns. The Saints' passing was also shaky to begin the match, and it looked as if the Vikings could earn their second North Suburban Conference win of the year.

They ran into a slight roadblock, however, in the form of freshman sensation Maggie Ewen. As the Saints' passing straightened out, Ewen began to score kills at will. However, outside hitter Rachel Barg and middle hitter Ashley King battled Ewen all throughout the first set as the teams traded points back and forth. In the end of the set, the Saints put the game 25-22 away with some strong serving.

In the second set, the Vikings couldn't put much offense together, and their defense wasn't up to par. The Vikings struggled to set each other up for good shots, and St. Francis routinely dropped tipped balls in behind the blockers. Nothing seemed to go right for the Vikings in the set, which they lost 25-14.

With their backs against the wall, the Vikings came out with their best set of the night, even though it still ended in a gut-wrenching loss.

Barg, King and Tiffaney Anderson started finding openings in the St. Francis defense, and their placement was spot-on. The defense finally started to sniff out the tips and it was a nice effort as the Vikings raced to a big lead.

St. Francis began to chip away with more tough serving and a powerful offense. Eventually, the match was tied at 14 and the Vikings seemed to be on the brink of losing the match. They powered out of the slump, though, and built a lead to 23-19 and looked like they might be moving to a fourth set.

St. Francis didn't panic, and they started to chip away until they took a 24-23 lead. North Branch finally broke their serve and tied it at 24 all.  Behind Ewen, though, the Saints won the next two points and completed the sweep of the Vikings

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