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Fertile-Beltrami lacks finishing touch in four-set loss to NCE/U-H

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times
Aubree Steffes sets up a teammate in Fertile-Beltrami's 3-1 loss to Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal Tuesday.

FERTILE — Whenever Fertile-Beltrami found success in one area Tuesday, there was another facet missing.

If it wasn't passing, it was hitting. If it wasn't hitting, it was serving. At least, that's how it appeared to coach Kerri Solie.

"When our serving was off, it seemed like our passing was off," Solie said. "When our passing is off, our hitters can't do their job."

With the exception of a few stretches that just weren't long enough, Fertile-Beltrami couldn't put all the pieces together, falling in four sets to Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal at home.

"It seemed like we always dug ourselves in a hole," Solie said. "We would catch up, and then instead of going up two, three points to go ahead, we would have one or two errors and it kind of spiraled down and down."

It was that kind of night for the Falcons; a night that every team experiences once in a while — even a team that came into Tuesday's match at 4-1, facing a 1-4 opponent in NCE/U-H.

But early on, that disparity appeared that would be the story. The Titans made three straight hitting errors, and with the momentum there for the taking, the Falcons sprinted with it. Marin Roragen came up with a block, followed by three straight booming kills, to help put Fertile-Beltrami up 10-3.

That strong start faded away, though, as NCE/U-H began doing the same thing the Falcons had been doing moments earlier. The Titans crawled back, tying the score for the first time at 17-17, taking their first lead at 25-24 and taking the entire set one point later.

"They just cleaned up a few things," Solie said. "They were setting up their hitters a little bit more, trying to set their one hit or make those bigger plays, and we just weren't able to get those blocks that we needed. We did get the block, then all of a sudden our defense was in the wrong spot. When our defense was in the right spot, then the block was in the wrong spot."

Neither team was able to make much of a run early in the second set, as the score was tied at 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. But from then on, it was all Fertile-Beltrami, as the Falcons finished the set on an 11-3 run sparked by what Solie thought was more consistent serving.

However, those serves that found their mark in the second set reverted to misses a set later. The third set followed the same pattern as before, except it was NCE/U-H that ended on an 11-7 run to win, 25-21.

The Titans tried to put away the match early in the fourth set, jumping out to a 10-4 lead, but their own service errors gave Fertile-Beltrami another chance. Down 18-13, Roragen and Aubree Swenby recorded kills and an Abby Ranz kill brought the Falcons within 23-22.

That was the last point they would score.

Fertile-Beltrami had several solid individual performances, led by Roragen's game-high 13 kills and 12 assists from Aubree Steffes. The Falcons never looked lost Tuesday.

But they weren't able to match up strong starts with strong finishes, strong passing with strong hitting or strong positioning with strong blocking — and the Titans took advantage of the one thing missing at any given time.

"We'll work on our serving, cleaning that up," Solie said. "Also, we need to work on, if we do make an error, don't hang our heads. We gotta be able to move on and go forward."

UP NEXT: Fertile-Beltrami will look to rebound Thursday, Oct. 29 at Blackduck (0-2). NCE/U-H hosts Climax-Fisher (2-2) in Twin Valley on Thursday.

Marin Roragen buries a kill during the second set Tuesday. Roragen had a game-high 13 kills, but Fertile-Beltrami fell in four sets.

SET-BY-SET

Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 3, Fertile-Beltrami 1 (26-24, 17-25, 25-21, 25-22)

KILLS

  • Fertile-Beltrami: Marin Roragen 13, Aubree Steffes 6, Aubree Swenby 4, Tori Erickson 1
  • NCE/U-H: Makenna Anderson 10, Madison Thorton 7, Sophia Lien 3

BLOCKS

  • Fertile-Beltrami: Tori Erickson 2, Marin Roragen 1
  • NCE/U-H: Makenna Anderson 2, Madison Thorton 1, Sophia Lien 1

DIGS

  • Fertile-Beltrami: Brooklyn Strem 6, Aubree Swenby 5, Kasia Wilson 4, Marin Roragen 4, Aubree Steffes 3, Tori Erickson 2
  • NCE/U-H: Adison Klementson 38, Madison Thorton 5

ASSISTS

  • Fertile-Beltrami: Aubree Steffes 12, Taylor Miller 6, Kasia Wilson 2, Marin Roragen 2
  • NCE/U-H: Sophia Lien 12

ACES

  • Fertile-Beltrami: Sydney Bunker 1
  • NCE/U-H: Sophia Lien 2, Adison Klementson 1

The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730, Jacob Shames (405) 496-0168 or by email at jshames@crookstontimes.com.

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