Yellowjackets defeat Hawley for HOL Championship
PERHAM — The Perham Yellowjackets won their first Heart O’ Lakes Conference volleyball championship since 2008 with a 3-1 victory over the Hawley Nuggets Tuesday evening by a score of 3-1 (25-17, 25-13, 21-25, 25-23).
Sophomore Ella Von Ruden led the charge on offense with 13 kills; senior Tina Scheidecker added 10 in a game that got away from the Yellowjackets in the third set.
“I think they feel the pressure,” Head Coach Eryn Moser said. “This is new to them. Winning is new. Being able to deal with it - that’s the best thing we can ask for right now. This is a huge confidence builder for us, for sure.“
Perham led 21-18, four points from clinching the match via sweep in set three, but the Nuggets rallied to score seven straight points and create some tension in the Perham gymnasium cutting the Yellowjacket lead to two sets to one.
Set four was a seesaw affair with neither team able to build a lead of more than four points with seven lead changes leading to a 23-all tie on a kill by Perham’s Maria Rutten.
Chelsey Honrud served out the match as Perham took the final two points and clinched the conference championship with a 25-23 fourth set win.
Both of the first two sets were close to the midway points with Perham buckling down and outscoring Hawley by a two-to-one margin down the stretch for comfortable wins by eight and 12 points.
“Kudos to Hawley,” said Moser. “It was a good championship. I’m glad our team came out on top.”
“It was all of our dreams because the past couple years were just not what we wanted to do,” junior middle hitter Hope Slettebak said. “With Coach Moser and all of our other coaches, with them encouraging us, it was really nice to reach our goals and dreams.”
The HOL title was not a realistic goal for a team that was 9-19 last season and one of the few Perham teams to not make a state tournament appearance. After an impressive early start to the 2013 campaign, those goals had to be upgraded.
“We had talked about focusing on the positive, focusing on winning, but I don’t think it really occurred us until after the Marshall tournament, and then it was like, we need to readjust and figure out what our goals are going to be for the end of this year because I think they started to believe, especially after the Marshall tournament,” said Moser.
“It’s just one of those things where we have to play to the best of our ability and play smart,” said Slettebak.
Perham improves their record to 24-2 overall and finish the HOL season undefeated at 6-0. The Yellowjackets two losses have come in three-set tournament matches. Perham remains undefeated in full, five-set matches.
“It’s amazing,” Slettebak said. “It’s unrealistic. I’m so proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished.”
Scheidecker and Tina Schmitz, both seniors, combined for 58 digs in the back row, a team-high 33 for Scheidecker. Senior Allie Christenson had 35 assists.
Kills: Von Ruden 13, T. Scheidecker 10, Rutten 7, Erickson 4, Slettebak 3.
Digs: T. Scheidecker 33, Schmitz 25, Rutten 16, Erickson 14, Honrud 13.
Assists: Christenson 35, Slettebak 1.
Visit @perhamsports on Twitter for more photos from Tuesday night's win.