COTTAGE GROVE — The Stillwater volleyball team improved to 3-0 in Suburban East Conference play after blanking Park 3-0 on Tuesday night. The Ponies (7-4) won by scores of 25-12, 25-9 and 27-25.
“When you’re 3-0 in the conference you’re where you want to be,” said Ponies coach Bob Fisher, who quickly added there is much work that remains.
The Ponies used a balanced attack and efficient performances in the middle from Stephanie Dietrich and Stephanie Houle. Houle made six swings and racked up as many kills to help spark Stillwater in the opening game while Dietrich added two kills in three attempts. In fact, Stillwater did not make an error while hitting 11 for 21 while closing out the first game on an 18-4 run.
Houle also delivered three of Stillwater’s five ace serves in Game 1.
Dietrich and Houle also combined for 5-for-5 hitting in the second game to lead the way in the middle, but setters Susan Evans (eight set assists) and Janae Momchilovich (12 set assists) also spread the ball around for a balanced attack. Carrie Brevitz finished with three kills in eight attempts in Game 2.
“That was a pretty strong example of distributing the ball and Amelia (Nora) and Leah (Richter) also got kills when they got set,” Fisher said. “It was pretty good distribution by Janae and Susan.”
Stillwater also racked up five aces and did not miss a serve in the second game.
Game 3 proved tougher for the Ponies after trailing 22-19, but they closed on an 8-3 run to complete the three-game sweep. Ashley came off the bench and recorded an ace during a serving run for the Ponies in the final game, contributing to a season-high 12 aces for the team.
“It was back and forth so give them credit,” Fisher said. “They are a young team and they do a lot of things right. They dug some balls that were really well hit. Our kills went down a little but, but you have to give them credit because we were pounding some balls.”
Houle and Dietrich finished with eight and seven kills to lead the attack while Brevitz finished with five kills. Autumn Nyenhuis chipped in with four kills.
Osseo 3, Stillwater 0
At Oak Park Heights, the Stillwater volleyball team ran out of steam in Monday’s 3-1 nonconference loss to undefeated and seventh-ranked Osseo on Monday at Stillwater Area High School.
The Orioles (11-0) bounced back from a narrow loss in Game 2 to turn back the Ponies by scores of 25-23, 25-27, 25-11 and 25-13. All four of Stillwater’s (6-4) four losses this season have come against ranked opponents.
“We knew they’d be tough and they were,” Ponies coach Bob Fisher said. “Those are the kind of teams we want to play.”
Stillwater was solid in the first two games, led by Autumn Nyenhuis with four kills in the opening game. The Ponies did not miss a serve in the match and Bri Momchilovich served an ace on game point as Stillwater prevailed in a hard-fought second set to even the match at 1-all. The Ponies trailed 17-11 at one point before finishing strong in Game 2.
The Ponies could not keep up the pace, however, as Osseo’s strong serving kept Stillwater out of system in the remaining games.
“The first two-and-a-half games were pretty strong,” Fisher said. “(Osseo taking control) was pretty much a function of probably our serve receive wearing down a little bit.”
Nyenhuis finished with a team-high 10 kills in the match for Stillwater, which also received six kills apiece from Steph Houle, Amelia Nora and sophomore Carrie Brevitz, who was making her varsity debut to help fill in for injured senior captain Savannah Sprenger.
Susan Evans and Janae Momchilovich each finished with 14 set assists for the Ponies.
“Overall, our defensive play is improving and the serve receive stuff we’ll get straightened away,” Fisher said. “Osseo is a big team and they are undefeated so they are definitely a great team. We’re taking games (from ranked opponents) and we’re right with them, it’s just a matter of time before we break through and have a solid push for a while match against teams like Osseo.”
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at email@example.com