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Yellowjackets hold off late rally from Hawley

Perham's Ilona Raitis leaps for the attack and tries to get it past the Hawley block during Perham's 3-2 victory over the Hawley Nuggets on Oct. 11. Jason Groth/FOCUS

The Perham volleyball team made a slight lineup change during the week and a couple of key adjustments during the match helped the Yellowjackets earn a grueling 25-12, 25-21, 20-25, 21-25 and 15-13 victory over Hawley in Hawley on Oct. 11.

It was the third grueling battle for the Yellowjackets during the week. They opened the week with a 3-2 defeat to Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, before falling 3-1 to Park Rapids Area. It was a much-needed win for the Yellowjackets as they prep for the final weeks of the regular season.

“This is our third grind this week and for our girls to come back after playing three tough matches this week and to be up two and then get down two and to finish game five the way we did, I’m super proud of them,” Perham head coach Eryn Moser said. “I commend our young bucks. They are stepping up and doing their job.”

Stella Raser

Lily DeBoer and Stella Raser finished with 13 kills each, while Rachel Muer and Ilona Raitis finished with 11 kills each. Moser primarily used Raitis in the front row and Laura Alstadt in the back row. Alstadt led the team with 24 digs, while Tayler Parks ahd 22 and Lisa Meader had 20.

Lily DeBoer

“Laura did a phenomenal job defensively,” Moser said. “Ilona and Stella Raser stepped up in the front row and did a nice job for us hitting. We were able to get the job done and it was nice to get the win at the end of the week.”

Moser said this year’s team has a lot of versatility. Moser said Alstadt is sound defensively and sound with the serve-receive, which allowed them to make that move with their depth in the front.

“Teams have already scouted us and they already have us on film, if we can change things up at the end of the season and mix things up, it’s going to be to our advantage,” Moser said of the changes.

Tayler Parks

The Yellowjackets cruised in the first two sets with Hawley, grabbing a 25-12 win in the first set and a 25-21 win in the second set. However, the momentum changed in the third set. Hawley’s Paige Thompson and McKenzie Koenig went on the attack. Hawley was able to swing the momentum to their side of the court, taking set three 25-20 and set for 25-21.

It appeared that Perham was going to pull away in the fifth set. They held leads of 9-5, 12-7 and 14-9, but Hawley battled back. A time-out with the Yellowjackets leading 14-9 turned the momentum. Hawley came out of the break and scored the next four points, cutting the lead to one at 14-13. However, Raser got the game’s final kill, securing the 15-13 win.

“Hawley is a sound team and I have the utmost respect for this program. They are sound defensively and we tell the girls that we are going to have to swing, swing a lot and break them down,” Moser said. “Our girls did, they stepped it up and got it done.”

The Yellowjackets improve to 17-9 overall and 5-0 in the Heart O’Lakes Conference. They return to action when they travel to Barnesville on Oct. 16. The two teams take undefeated conference records in to the match.

Perham def. Hawley (25-12, 25-21, 20-25, 21-25, 15-13)

PER: Allie King 22SA, 12D; Laura Alstadt 2AS, 24D; Gracie DeBoer 2K, 1SA, 1D; Lily DeBoer 13K, 22SA, 12D; Rachel Muer 11K, 2D; Bradlynn Gniffke 7K, 1AS, 8D; Lisa Meader, 1SA, 1AS, 20D; Ilona Raitis 11K, 2D; Stella Raser 13K, 2SA, 1D; Tayler Parks 22D.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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