The volleyball match between North Branch and Cambridge-Isanti on Tuesday, Sept. 14, was not a predictor of the week that followed.
In that head-to-head match, the Vikings prevailed on their home court by scores of 25-10, 25-12 and 25-19, and coach Mike Selbitchska was understandably pleased by his team’s performance.
“It wasn’t as easy as that looked, because Cambridge-Isanti has some good players,” he said. “But we have worked hard, and we have grown and gotten better. We’re figuring things out, and the entire team is responding.
“Everything that we’ve been working on, we brought to the floor. We put the pressure on them, and we made them look worse than they are.”
C-I coach Colin Dickey was frustrated by his team’s performance against North Branch.
“We’re not communicating, and we’re making the same mistakes over and over – and expecting different results,” he said. “We couldn’t get a good set, we couldn’t get a good pass, and even if we did, we would hit right into their block.”
Fortunately, the Bluejackets responded with a strong finish to the week, beginning with a four-set win over Becker on Thursday, Sept. 16. Then C-I posted a 3-1 record at the Hudson Invitational two days later, posting wins over two Wisconsin schools (Prescott and Superior) as well as a win over Ellsworth while losing only to Somerset.
Meanwhile North Branch returned to the court on Thursday, Sept. 16, at Chisago Lakes and beat the Wildcats 25-14 in the first set, only to drop the next three by scores of 25-19, 25-21 and 26-24.
Rush City and Braham faced off in a match on Thursday, Sept. 16, at Braham, and Rush City claimed a 25-22, 25-11, 25-15 win behind 10 kills by senior Emma Kirby and seven service aces by freshman libero McKenna Garr, who also had a team-high seven digs.
Two days earlier Rush City knocked off Hinckley-Finlayson 25-22, 25-11 and 25-15 as Kirby and sophomore Ella Ferrie had seven and six kills, respectively. Sophomore Cora Sayotovich had five service aces and 23 assists in that win.
Cambridge-Isanti dominated the field at the St. Francis Invitational, winning with 16 points – just one point away from a perfect score, and 42 points better than Chisago Lakes in second place.
Senior Jaxon Jones won the individual title, and was followed by sophomore Cal Droubi in second, eighth grader Hunter Jacobson in third, senior Zander Gallmeier in fourth and sophomore Jonas Kennedy in sixth.
The Bluejackets also won the JV title with a perfect score of 15 points and had nine of the top 10 individual finishers.
Rush City finished 10th of 12 teams at the Mora Invitational on Thursday, Sept. 14. The Tigers finished with 263 points, with the Northwest Homeschool Co-op winning with just 27 points.
Senior Joey Papke led Rush City, finishing 28th in the race with a time of 19:39.8, while fellow senior Karl Meissner was 50th with a 20:42.4 clocking.
Cambridge-Isanti closed the gap on Rogers, a team that beat them soundly at Big Lake two weeks earlier, to finish second at the St. Francis Invitational. The Bluejackets finished with 38 points, just four behind Rogers.
Individually, seventh grader Molly Larson finished third to lead C-I, with eighth grader Makenna Sjoberg placing fourth and junior captain Kendyl Izzo placing sixth.
Both Rush City and Braham competed at the Mora Invitational on Thursday, Sept. 14, with the Tigers taking 13th place with 355 points while the Bombers were unable to field a full squad. Hibbing won the team title with 54 points.
Braham freshman Ava Johnson was the top local finisher, placing 59th with a time of 25:41.4, while senior Shelby Holmstrom led Rush City with a 26:22.5 clocking good for 67th place.
Cambridge-Isanti struggled in three losses last week, starting with a 4-1 decision to Monticello on Monday, Sept. 13. Freshman Justin Sauze scored the lone goal for the Bluejackets, who then fell at St. Francis 3-1 on Thursday, Sept. 16, despite a goal by sophomore A.J. Nelson.
C-I then closed the week with a 3-0 loss at Forest Lake on Saturday, Sept. 18, and coach Joe Kassa admitted that playing six games in 10 days wore down his young squad.
“I think the quantity of games we have played recently is starting to show,” he said. “And [the game at Forest Lake] was our first game on turf, and turf is quicker than grass – which was a shocker to some of our younger guys.”
North Branch lost its only match last week, falling at Princeton by a 3-1 margin.
Cambridge Christian got off to a strong start in Christian Athletic League action with a pair of road victories.
The first was a 5-4 win at Foreston on Thursday, Sept. 16. Senior J.J. Sedler led the Warriors with three goals and added an assist, while Wendy Mcarton added two goals and an assist in the win.
The following evening Cambridge Christian claimed a 3-1 victory at Immanuel Christian. Sedler got the Warriors on the board just five minutes into the contest, while both Jacob Fryc and Clay Kroehnert added goals. Tate Nowacki finished with 17 saves to claim the victory in goal as the Warriors moved to 4-2 on the season.
North Branch remained unbeaten on the season by claiming two more victories last week.
The Vikings opened with a 3-0 victory against Big Lake on Thursday, Sept. 16. Senior Emmie Meyer notched a pair of goals in that victory, while freshman Drew Moryn had a goal as well.
Freshman Sharis Garcia Velazquez stopped two shots to earn the clean sheet.
Sophomore Ava Gerten scored three goals to claim a hat trick in the Vikings’ 3-1 win at Duluth Marshall on Saturday, Sept. 18, with Garcia Velazquez making three saves for the win.
Cambridge-Isanti began last week with a scoreless tie at Monticello on Monday, Sept. 13, with sophomore Samantha Schmidt stopping all five shots she faced to earn the clean sheet.
The Bluejackets then suffered a 2-0 home loss to Zimmerman the following evening despite 11 saves by Schmidt.
Cambridge-Isanti claimed a 100-84 home victory over Chisago Lakes on Thursday, Sept. 16.
Senior Emma Bellows and sophomore Arianna Melby were double winners for the Bluejackets in that meet. Bellows won the 200 free with a time of 2:22.31 while also taking first in the 100 free with a 1:03.02 clocking.
Melby won the 200 IM with a time of 2:40.13, and she also claimed the top spot in the 500 free with a 6:24.78 clocking.
Other individual winners for C-I were junior Olivia Hansen in the 100 back (1:12.44) and senior Caiya Gibbs in the 100 breast (1:24.26). And the Bluejackets’ 200 medley relay of Hansen, sophomore Cuincy Gibbs, junior Cassandra Thompson and senior Katelyn Berg finished first with a time of 2:12.64.
Cambridge-Isanti posted a trio of impressive victories last week to move to 10-1 on the season.
The Bluejackets opened the week with a 6-0 win over Sauk Rapids-Rice on Monday, Sept. 13, winning every match except a second doubles match that was unable to be completed because of rain and lightning.
The following day C-I swept St. Francis 7-0, winning every match except first doubles in straight sets. Senior Chloe Hajek did not lose a game in winning at first singles, while junior Ava Lowman lost just three games at second singles and senior Natalie Randall lost just one game at third singles.
The Bluejackets closed the week with an impressive 4-3 victory over perennial Mississippi 8 power Chisago Lakes on Thursday, Sept. 16.
Meanwhile North Branch also claimed a victory, knocking off Big Lake 5-2 by winning three singles matches and the first two doubles flights. The winners for the Vikings were seniors Rachel Wurdemann at first singles, senior Nora Toussaint at third singles and Ashley Bistodeau at fourth singles.