Hailey Atwood

Photo by Holden Law

SUPERIOR, Wis. – The Yellowjacket volleyball team is in a dogfight. At the end of the regular season, the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference will take the top four teams in the regular season standings and grant them admission into the conference tournament. Entering play Saturday, the Yellowjackets sat in a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot. The team they were tied with – North Central, the team that just so happened to be the Yellowjacket opponent Saturday afternoon.

With playoff positioning on the line, the Yellowjackets showed up in a big way.

The Yellowjackets employed a balanced attack, and with surgical precision down North Central in three lopsided sets, sweeping the match with set scores of 25-12, 25-14, and 25-15 at Mertz Mortorelli Gym. With the victory, the Yellowjackets got back in the win column after back-to-back defeats. Overall, the Yellowjackets now stand at 6-13 and are 4-3 in the UMAC.

Alexie Pryd (Maple Grove, Minn./Maple Grove Senior) reached double figures with 10 kills to lead the Yellowjackets. Jordyn O’Brien (Superior, Wis./Superior Senior) also had a strong match, producing five kills and attacking at a clip of .444. Kaylin Plautz (Elk River, Minn./Elk River) had seven kills and an attack percentage of .357. As a team the Yellowjackets had a .255 attack percentage.

The first set was tied early before the Yellowjackets went on a 5-0 run to break a 3-3 tie. A kill from O’Brien made it 9-5 and brought the serve back to the Yellowjackets, and Cassy Teff (Foley, Minn./Foley) served them to five straight points to break the set open. After a 3-0 run for the Rams, the Yellowjackets closed the set out with four straight points, punctuated by a kill from Pryd.

In the second set the Yellowjackets picked up where they left off in the first, jumping out to a big advantage early. The Rams closed the gap to 8-5, but the Yellowjackets blew it open, winning four straight points and taking seven of eight to move ahead 15-6. The teams went back-and-forth the rest of the way, and a kill from Maiana Stark (Germantown, Wis./Germantown) closed out the set, giving the Yellowjackets a commanding lead.

The Yellowjackets jumped out to an early lead again in the third, but this time North Central didn’t let them pull away. Right away that is. With the ‘Jackets up 9-8, Megan Holz (Savage, Minn./Burnsville Senior) served the Yellowjackets to eight straight points, including a pair of service aces, to put things out of reach. From there the Yellowjackets cruised to the victory in the set and a sweep of the match.

In addition to three service aces, Holz had a great day as a setter, finishing with a team-high 18. Teff added 11.

Defensively, Hailey Atwood (Big Lake, Minn./Big Lake) and Jenna Anderson (Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji) each had 11 digs. Teff and Plautz each finished the match with a pair of blocks.

The Yellowjackets return to the road with a midweek match, taking on Northland Tuesday, Oct. 12. The opening serve is set for 7 p.m. at Kendrigan Gymnasium in Ashland.