Vikings fall 3-1 to tough Totino-Grace squad
The North Branch girls volleyball team kicked off its season at home last Thursday when hosting Totino-Grace, who beat the Vikings in three games last year.
Despite jumping to an 8-4 lead in the first two games, North Branch was unable to contain the Eagles and lost, 3-1: 24-26, 25-13, 27-25 and 25-22.
A series of hitting errors and net violations caused trouble for the home team in the first game when they gave up an early lead to fall by two points, 26-24.
The Vikings came out swinging in game two to combine strong swings and a serving run for a resounding 25-13 win to even the match at 1-1.
But hitting and serve-receive errors plagued North Branch the rest of the battle. They lost 27-25 and 25-22 to fall to the Eagles.
Head coach Mike Selbitschka said despite the errors, which he noted are common at the beginning of the year, he was proud of the way his team fought for each point.
“The thing I liked to see is when we were down in game four by 11 points, we ended up battling back at the end for a long run to get us within two-three points,” Selbitschka said. “It’s good to see them continue to play as a team, keep emotions in check and push until the very end—they never gave up.”
Junior outside hitter Courtney Selbitschka led the Vikings on offense, tallying 22 kills to accompany 38 digs and three aces on the night.
Senior Katy Trunk recorded 14 kills and two blocks in the middle, while senior Maddy Kunshier earned seven kills, 39 digs and two blocks on the outside.
Junior Cassie Kunshier kept her team in the running with scrappy play in the back row for 49 digs in her debut as varsity libero.
Junior Morgen Coleman contributed 45 set assists and two blocks in the season opener, while senior Hannah Hubbard had two aces and junior Kelsey Martinson recorded two blocks.
The head coach said his squad was disappointed with the loss, but proud of their efforts.
“I would say they were frustrated that they ended up losing, but had some satisfaction that with a team like Totino, they were right there,” Selbitschka said. “Every game could have gone either way so they had the feeling like ‘hey we can play with anybody’.”
North Branch played Andover on Tuesday night and travel to Elk River Thursday for a 7 p.m. matchup.