Prep volleyball: Gwinn ramps up intensity, tops Norway

NORWAY – Any momentum leftover from Tuesday’s win over Negaunee quickly faded for the Norway Knights Thursday night as Mid-Peninsula Conference leader Gwinn rolled to a 25-18, 25-13, 25-19 win.

“I thought coming off our Negaunee win that it would light a fire under the girls,” Norway coach Kayla DeBakker said. “But it definitely didn’t. We had our heads down every single set. Communication, once again, just broke down.”

The Knights never really mounted any threat against the Modeltowners, aside from the first half of the final set.

The balanced Modeltowner was highlighted by Katie Aho and Shelby Talsma with six kills each and Chelsea Moton and Bella Wedig with five apiece. Moton added three blocks.

“We heard they beat Negaunee, so we came with intensity and wanted this win big time,” Gwinn coach Stephanie Bahrman said.

The Modeltowners also served 18 aces in the match. Aho, using a jump serve, totaled nine, including a run of five straight to help close out the match in the third set.

“Our serving has started to get more and more aggressive as the season goes on, which I’m excited about,” Bahrman said.

Leah Mattson had five kills and Brandi Strong four aces for the Knights, but problems with serve receive kept the Norway attack grounded.

“It looked like we had cement blocks on our feet tonight,” DeBakker said. “Gwinn is a tough team, at the top of our conference. I thought that would motivate us, but it didn’t.”

Gwinn jumped out to a 14-5 lead in set one. The Knights pulled to within four points at 16-12 and again at 19-15. But Gwinn closed on a 6-3 run, getting a tip from Aho, kills from Moton and Talsma and an ace from Olsen.

Gwinn held a 15-7 lead in set two and was able to keep the Knights from climbing back.

Norway, after a pair of aces by Strong, held an 11-7 lead in the final set. Kills by Mattson and Hannah Anderson along with an ace by Anderson had the Knights up 17-13. But the Modeltowners took over from there, scoring 12 of the final 14 points.

Slams from Tori Lauren and Aho helped get things going, but it was Aho’s run at the serving line that broke an 18-18 tie and sent Gwinn on its way.

Gwinn, also a winner in the JV match, improved to 5-1 in league matches, while Norway slipped to 3-4.