In a battle of winless (albeit tough) Wright County West teams, the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted gym was loud and energetic Monday night. Dassel-Cokato scored a come-from-behind victory over HLWW Nov. 9 in five entertaining sets (12-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 15-7).
Both squads had been through a gauntlet of conference play already and Monday’s matchup meant someone was finally going to put a mark in the win column. HLWW got off to a quick start in the first set and things seemed to be getting out of hand fast, with the Lakers taking the opening frame 25-12 and a 1-0 lead. Every time the Chargers strung together a couple positives, the Lakers answered with more.
The next game was a bit different. D-C kept a few points ahead most of the way, then broke an 18-18 tie with a strong 25-22 finish to even things up at 1-1.
The defense of HLWW junior Jenna Pelnis shined in the middle of the match. Her diving digs forced long volleys that tired out the Chargers by the end of the third set, a 25-21 win. Freshman middle hitter Alexis Koch put pressure on the Chargers’ front line.
But the visitors were not to be run out of the gym. The momentum shifted with big kills from Evelyn O’Brien and Lauren Abfalter, an 18-12 lead spurring confidence and energy for another comeback. A few unforced errors made it 23-20, but D-C finished it out on an ace 25-20.
It was the first time HLWW had gone to a deciding fifth set, and the first time in a month for D-C (the season opener against Glencoe-Silver Lake). The momentum stayed on the Charger side, a 5-1 burst out of the gate all but sealing the cushion needed to finish the match. Junior Zoe Verhey came up big with kills up front to clinch the win 15-7.
The rematch takes place Thursday, Nov. 12 at Dassel-Cokato.
For the complete story and more Herald Journal sports coverage, check out the Friday, Nov. 13 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.
Follow Jared Martinson on Twitter @JaredNHR for in-game updates, schedule changes, and more.