Vikings clinch two nail-biters

Viking setter Morgen Coleman sets her feet for one of 96 set attempts in the win over the Elks last week.

Viking setter Morgen Coleman sets her feet for one of 96 set attempts in the win over the Elks last week.

NB volleyball defeats Andover, Elk River

First-year head coach Mike Selbitschka and the North Branch volleyball team is off to a strong start after defeating both Andover and Elk River in five sets last week.

On Thursday evening against the Elks, the Vikings dug themselves a hole in the first set. After being down 20-15, North Branch crawled back to make it a tie game at 22 with the help of sophomore outside hitter Courtney Selbitschka and a series of Elk River errors. The Vikings eventually lost the starter set, 27-25, but used their late-game momentum to take the second set, 25-21.

North Branch lost a close one in set three, 25-23, then returned with a resounding 15-4 lead in the next set to give them the cushion needed to even the set score at two apiece.

Team celebration photo: The North Branch volleyball team celebrates a big kill by sophomore outside hitter Courtney Selbitschka in set five of the nailbiting victory last Thursday.  Photos by Kat Ladwig

Team celebration photo: The North Branch volleyball team celebrates a big kill by sophomore outside hitter Courtney Selbitschka in set five of the nailbiting victory last Thursday.
Photos by Kat Ladwig

In the final set, Elk River took advantage of a struggling North Branch serve receive to take a 6-2 lead early on. Following a time-out by Mike Selbitschka, the Vikings were back on track, putting up a big block to force hitting errors by the Elks and closing the gap to 6-4. Courtney Selbitschka took aim from the right side with a hard kill to bring the Vikings within one point. Later, an off-speed swing from sophomore Kelsey Martinson on the right side would even the score at seven.

Despite a big hit by senior Ceyerra Kraemer in the middle and a double block kill on the outside by juniors Katy Trunk and Madison Kunshier, the Elks jumped to a 12-10 lead.

Rookie head coach for North Branch Mike  Selbitschka talks to his players  during set four against Elk River.

Rookie head coach for North Branch Mike
Selbitschka talks to his players
during set four against Elk River.

Following another North Branch time-out, the Elks committed errors to put the Vikings up 13-12, a lead they would give up to take the home match win in five.

Senior libero Cassie Doerr recorded 21 digs on the night, while sophomore setter Morgen Colemen made just seven errors in 96 set assists. Trunk earned 11 kills and five blocks, while fellow middle hitter, Kraemer, put away eight kills and had seven blocks. Courtney Selbitschka led the offensive attack from the outside with 26 kills, followed by Kunshier with 11 kills.

Mike Selbitschka said the nail-biter victory shows what his team is capable of.

“Huge win for us tonight, a huge win,” Mike Selbitschka said. “After being down like we were much of the game to come back at the end, it was just great teamwork. Cassie Doerr really stepped up for us as a senior leader, and she brought this team back. Courtney had amazing kills, and Morgen gave us great sets to work with — it was just a great night.”

The head coach also said his young squad showcased its team motto by pulling together as one unit on the court.

“One of our team goals is being a better person and a better player and being a better teammate, and I think they proved that here tonight, that they can work together as a team. There’s no ‘me’ out there; there are a lot of ‘we’s.’”

Leading the team in statistics in the win against Andover was Courtney Selbitschka with 16 kills, Kunshier with 10 kills, Doerr with 23 digs and Coleman with 50 set assists.

North Branch traveled to Duluth Denfeld on Monday, and hits the road again Sept. 5 with a game at 7 p.m. in Princeton.  

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