Pirates still dealing with growing pains, swept at Fertile-Beltrami
FERTILE — All the Crookston volleyball team needed was one point.
Up 24-19 in the third set, if the Pirates could just buckle down, they would extend the match to a fourth set and turn what looked like a routine sweep for Fertile-Beltrami into a contest.
But given five chances, Crookston still couldn't take advantage. The Falcons scored six straight points to take the lead and finished off the match five points later, wrapping up a three-set win over the Pirates (0-2) on Saturday.
The match, the only day or weekend match on Crookston's schedule, began shortly after noon. Fertile-Beltrami (2-0) flew out of the gates, scoring the first four points and taking an 14-4 lead as the Pirates had trouble with their returns.
Crookston seemed to settle down, and pulled to within 19-18 as the Falcons made a slew of errors. But Fertile-Beltrami closed out the set, 25-19, behind kills from Aubree Steffes, Aubrey Swenby and Marin Roragen.
"Saturday matches are so different because we don't have school," said Crookston coach Ashley Stopa. "It's always the mindset of, how do you go in on a Saturday. It wasn't the start we wanted, but it was a pretty good finish."
While the first set was heavy on runs, the second set was more back-and-forth. It was tied at over 10 occasions, the last of which came at 14 apiece. From there, though, the Falcons finished on an 11-3 run.
With their backs against the wall, the Pirates came out hot in the third set, scoring the first six points behind three straight aces by Emily Funk (Sr.). The Falcons surged right back in front to go up by two before Crookston took control once more.
Libby Salentine (So.) and Hannah Loraas (Jr.) had two straight blocks to tie the score at 12, while juniors Mallorie Sundeen and Rylee Solheim got a productive attack going to fuel a 10-2 run.
"They all did a really good job of working together," Stopa said. "Mallorie Sundeen did a good job of taking control at that net once we got her some rest so she didn't play in the back. She's a player who really knows the game and helps direct that front row."
But the end of the third set mirrored the Pirates' third and fourth sets in Thursday's season opener against Ada-Borup West, in which they held big leads before allowing the Cougars to storm back. That's just what happened Saturday. After the Falcons tied it at 24 with three kills and an ace, Steffes slammed two kills to end the set at 28-26 and the match.
"I liked the fact that they were aggressive and they took control (at the start)," Stopa said. "To finish, we just have to remember to not be timid. Don't be afraid to lose, just be happy to be there and keep pushing to the end.
"... Errors are okay, as long as you're trying your best. And if you work your hardest, things will start to happen in our favor."
That's a lesson Stopa hopes come with time — something her young team hasn't had much of so far. But the more time the Pirates do get, the more potential Stopa sees.
"They listen very well and they adapt very well," she said. "I'm really impressed with their ability to make gains in just a short amount of time. ... This team's unique in every ball that hits the floor on our side, they're wondering what they can do differently. They're very reflective in their play. Even though we don't have a practice (before the next game), I think they're gonna be thinking about all the things they can work on and bring to the court."
UP NEXT: The Pirates are at home Monday, Oct. 12 to take on Sacred Heart. The Eagles lost in their season opener to Kittson County Central, 3-1, on Thursday.
Fertile-Beltrami will head to Oklee on Monday to face Red Lake County Central, which took down Northome/Kelliher, 3-1, on Friday.
- Fertile-Beltrami 3 (25-19, 25-17, 28-26), Crookston 0
- Crookston: Mallorie Sundeen 4, Rylee Solheim 4, Emma Boll 1, Hannah Loraas 1
- Fertile-Beltrami: Marin Roragen 12, Aubree Steffes 8, Aubree Swenby 8, Abby Ranz 4, Tori Erickson 3, Annika Messick 1
- Crookston: Hannah Loraas 2, Destiny Goulet-Ramirez 1, Mallorie Sundeen 1, Rylee Solheim 1
- Fertile-Beltrami: Aubree Steffes 2, Marin Roragen 1
- Crookston: Emily Funk 6, Libby Salentine 5
- Fertile-Beltrami: Aubree Steffes 14, Taylor Miller 12, Aubree Swenby 3, Brooklyn Strem 2, Abby Ranz 1
- Crookston: Emma Boll 9, Mallorie Sundeen 5, Amber Cymbaluk 4, Emily Funk 4, Libby Salentine 3
- Fertile-Beltrami: Aubree Steffes 13, Aubree Swenby 10, Marin Roragen 10, Taylor Miller 9, Brooklyn Strem 7, Annika Messick 1, Sydney Bunker 1
- Crookston: Emily Funk 3, Amber Cymbaluk 1
- Fertile-Beltrami: Aubree Swenby 3, Marin Roragen 2, Taylor Miller 2, Aubree Steffes 1, Brooklyn Strem 1, Tori Erickson 1
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