Perham volleyball head coach Eryn Moser is trying to get her team to believe they can compete against some of the top teams in the area. The believe was there at times and disappeared at times during the annual KLN Invitational on Oct. 5 at the Hive in Perham.
The Yellowjackets earned a pair of wins when they defeated Underwood and Thief River Falls, but suffered losses to Fosston and Sauk Centre. The pair of losses for Perham came against the final two teams standing in the tournament. Sauk Centre defeated Fosston 20-25, 25-19 and 15-10 to capture the Gold Tournament Championship.
"I thought for the most part our girls played pretty well," Perham head coach Eryn Moser said. "I think we get the mindset that we can't compete against good teams and get into a little funk. We had a funk in that last run with Thief River Falls with a lot of mental mistakes on our side and controlling the tangibles. I get that we can't control how they hit and where they hit, but we can control serves and we can control passing. Getting our team to figure out that we can compete against good teams is still a struggle, but it's getting better and they are getting more confident."
The Yellowjackets finished pool play with a 2-1 mark overall. They opened with a 25-16 and 25-14 victory over Underwood. However, Perham was edged out by Fosston by point differential. Perham lost the first game 22-25, but won the second 25-23. Perham closed out pool play with a 27-25 and 25-23 victory over the Thief River Falls Prowlers. Perham had to rally from deficits against the Prowlers to earn the victory.
The Yellowjackets advanced to take on Sauk Centre in the gold bracket. However, the Mainstreeters took control of game one, cruising to a 25-13 win. The Mainstreeters built up an early lead at 16-10, but stretched it to 22-11 before cruising to the 12-point victory.
The Yellowjackets played a stronger second game, but a late run by the Mainstreeters allowed them to earn the 25-20 victory over Perham. A Katie Zepper ace tied the game at 17, but the Mainstreeters scored eight of the final 11 points for the win. It appeared the Yellowjackets had the belief that they could play with Sauk Centre in game two.
"We talked about walking onto a court and seeing a faceless opponent. I think sometimes we walk on and think 'oh, we are playing Sauk Centre and they are good.' Our mentality in our team meeting was that you can compete with good teams, and you need to start believing it," Moser said. "They started to believe it in the second game, but that first game was hard to watch and hard to coach."
Lily DeBoer finished with a team high of 30 kills, while Stella Raser had 26 kills for the tournament. Katie Zepper and Sydney Anderson finished with 10 each. Grayce Mickelson led the team with 51 digs, while Anderson had 35. Lily Lorenson finished with 24 and DeBoer ended with 23.
The Yellowjackets close out the regular season at home with three games against Heart O'Lakes Conference opponents, beginning with Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8. Moser said she believes this tournament gets them ready for the final weeks of the regular season and into the Section 8AA playoffs.
"This is a quality tournament where teams get to see good teams all the way through and we learn a lot," Moser said. "We go into the second half of the season with things that we need to work on. Did we see some things that we need to work on from playing tougher competition? Absolutely, we look forward to the second half of the season to practice and get those ready for the start of our tournament season."
The Yellowjackets sit at 9-13 overall and will take on DGF, Hawley and Barnesville in their final three games of the season.