September 16, 2010 at 10:02 a.m.
"This was a battle from point one to the last point," Vikings Head Coach Kari Francis said after this tough North Suburban Conference tilt was over.
The Vikings came out a little sluggish in the first set, and that was compounded by the fact that they lost middle hitter Jessica Merchant early in the set to a sprained ankle.
Francis pointed to St. Francis' sensational middle hitter Maggie Ewen as one of the big reasons her squad started out slow. "We really had a tough time containing Maggie," she said. Behind Ewen, St. Francis took the first set 25-20.
In the second set, the tone for the back-and-forth night was set. It was never very far from being tied up, and because of Merchant's injury, it made things even tougher than normal for Francis and the Vikings. "It was back and forth the entire night with some players needing to step up from the bench and moving to other positions as needed," she said. "Serve receive passing was inconsistent to start the match which put us into a predictable offense. We need to work on having confidence in pressure situations to get the job done."
Although the set was a tough, seesaw battle, a pair of sophomores, middle hitter Annette Olson and outside hitter Annamarie Zack came in and helped push the set to extra points, but St. Francis came out on top 28-26 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
In the third set, North Branch held off the St. Francis win by taking the set 25-20. "In the past, we would have come out flat in game three, but we battled back to take the game," Francis said.
But, flaunting that killer instinct and the superior talent of Ewen, the Saints were able to close out the match in the fourth set, winning 25-23. "It may not have ended the way we wanted, it again was another night that we felt as though we are moving in the right direction," Francis explained after the loss.
Sophomore middle Tayler Fertig led the night with 12 kills hitting .363 and junior Jessica Lemmerman had 10 kills hitting .478 on the night. Zack had four aces while hitting .333 on the night.."
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