Rhinelander’s Novalee Juel attempts to hit through a double block by Wausau East’s Grace Stimac (23) and Savannah Spees (11) during a non-conference volleyball match at Wausau East High School Monday, Sept. 16. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
9/19/2019 7:33:00 AM Hodag volleyball swept by Wausau East, Antigo
The Rhinelander High School volleyball team continues to try to find a spark that will lead to more success on the court, but has yet to hit on the right combination.
The Hodags (1-13) dropped two more matches to start the week, falling in straight sets at Wausau East Monday and to Antigo at home Tuesday.
Hodag coach Brianna Scheuermann said it comes down to a matter of finding the right chemistry on the court.
"Just coming back from a game and trying a new rotation, that kind of threw them in the first set," she said following Tuesday's loss to Antigo. "They were trying to get into a groove. By the end of the first set and into the second set, they kind of found a groove."
Wausau East 3, Rhinelander 0
A sluggish start was too much for Rhinelander to overcome Monday night as it was beaten in straight sets at Wausau East 25-9, 25-7, 25-15.
"It's a Monday night. They had a the whole weekend to kind of chill, so I think it took us a little bit to get together, especially for a Monday night," Scheuermann said. "I think once we got in the groove and got things going they kind of came together and started playing a little bit better."
A lull late in the first set that carried into the second set proved to be a major difference in the match.
Rhinelander trailed 11-7 in the first set when East got a side out and promptly went on a 14-2 run to close out the set. That lull carried over to the second set as East raced out to a 17-0 lead.
Grace Stimac recorded five aces for East in the first game, including three in a string of four points that pushed the Lumberjacks' lead to 20-8. Stimac and Taylor Pagel also swung away at the net. Pagel unofficially finished with 13 kills on the night while Stimac added eight.
"They're super tall and aggressive and they were just hitting right between our box. They're smart players and were hitting away from our libero," Scheuermann said.
The third set was by far Rhinelander's best. The Hodags had leads of 2-0 and 4-2 before East inched back in front. Rhinelander stayed within shouting distances most of the set, before East included away with 11 of the final 14 points.
"I think tonight we just had a little more tenacity and hustle, and I think the girls actually played little bit better than we have the past three weeks," Scheuermann said. "That's been a struggle, but tonight it looked like they were playing hard. Wausau East was a really good team, but they were playing hard and giving it their all."
Back-to-back aces by Gabby Braatz gave East a 17-12 lead in the third and helped to swing the momentum. Unofficially, East tallied 13 service aces against the Hodags.
"That's always has been our one thing, serve receive and passing the volleyball, that we've always got to work on," Scheuermann said.
According to stats kept by the team, Rhinelander recorded only four kills on the night, two of which were by Kahlie Arneson. Hannah Worachek had two digs and Brynn Brzycki recorded a solo block.
Antigo 3, Rhinelander 0
It was a similar story for the Hodags Tuesday as they fell at home to Antigo 25-11, 25-11, 25-10.
"Again serve receive killed us tonight, and Antigo's libero can just pick up everything," Scheuermann said. "We were finding ways to get kills down but, with our serve receive being off and having a new rotation, I think girls were just trying to find their groove with that."
Sophomore middle Maddison Fisher, available to play for the first time this season, was inserted into the starting lineup and recorded a block. She did not have any kills is six attempts.
"Maddison Fisher was able to play in the game, so we kind of changed up the lineup. We included her to see if we could get more touches on blocks and maybe some more kills," Scheuermann said.
Pauer led Rhinelander with three kills while Emily Jorgensen and Brzycki had two kills each.
"We had Emily Jorgensen playing all around," Scheuermann noted. "She's been battling a little bit of a knee injury but today she was hitting the ball hard and playing all around. It's good to see her coming back and playing all around."
Aryssa Zasada had eight assists for Rhinelander, Hannah Worachek had eight digs and Brzycki finished with three total blocks.
The lineup could change again for the Hodags later this week as Scheuermann said senior Cynthia Beavers will be available to play for the first time this season. Beavers was an all-Northern Lakes Conference selection last year at Three Lakes before transferring to Rhinelander for the winter season. Rhinelander travels to Three Lakes for a quadrangular meet tonight.
"We're going to stick with trying to find a new rotation because we have Maddie back and Cynthia back as well on Thursday," Scheuermann said. "I think it will just be figuring out a lineup including them, seeing who works well with them."
Crandon and Gillett will also take part in the four-team meet.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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