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North Branch’s Lindsey Bunes digs the ball against Chisago Lakes while teammate Leah Kent watches. Bunes led the Vikings with nine kills in the three-set sweep of the Wildcats on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Photo by Jorge Perales

For the Cambridge Christian volleyball team, the Christian Athletic League tournament was a bit of a disappointment, as the Warriors lost both of their matches.

But for coach Rachel Newton, the real disappointment was that the tournament signaled the end of her team’s season.

“I’m really impressed and proud of the growth this team demonstrated,” Newton said. “Whether it was serving, passing or hitting, this team worked to improve. They have gotten smarter on the court as the season wore on, and they played better and better together.

“This is an amazing group of girls who, even in the face of defeat last weekend, played hard until the very end of their two matches. I wish we had a few more weeks together so we could continue to improve.”

Cambridge Christian opened the CAL Tournament, which was played at Willmar Community Christian School, with a four set loss to St. Cloud Christian on Friday, Oct. 30. Newton said the struggles for her team in that match centered on serving and serve reception.

“We played a good game, but it was frustrating because we were very inconsistent in our serving,” she said. “We had a number of aces, but we also had some serving errors that just handed a point to the other team. And we struggled in service reception. But other than those two areas, we played at a very high level.”

Kaitlyn Bonkoski led the Warriors with five service aces, while Raelynn LaBeau and Clara Morlock each added a pair of aces. Brooke Simonson led the office with 15 kills, while Emily Ryan had 12 assists.

The following morning Cambridge Christian lost in three sets to Valley Christian, a side Newton called “a super-competitive team that is very scrappy.”

“But we played better in this match than on Friday; we only had five serving errors, and we also had fewer passing errors than we did Friday,” she said.

Simonson again led the offense with eight kills and added 10 digs and five assists. LaBeau also added 10 digs after collecting 12 the previous day.

Mixed news for Rush City, Braham

Braham and Rush City met on the volleyball court on Monday, Oct. 26, and the Tigers won in four sets.

Ellie White led Rush City with 16 kills, while Cora Sayotavich had 32 assists. Ally Rood added seven service aces while Mckenna Garr added 18 digs as the Tigers improved to 6-0 on the season.

Ashlynn Giffrow had 10 kills while Julia Kuhnke added seven for Braham in the match, and Adelia Pierson finished with six kills, five service aces and four solo blocks.

Unfortunately for Rush City, the school returned to a distance learning model the next day, meaning the Tigers’ season is on hold for the immediate future.

“Our school and activities shutdown is unfortunate,” Rush City volleyball coach Eric Telander said. “I don’t envy the people that have to make these decisions, and I feel for the kids who are impacted.

“I hope everyone will join us in keeping this virus at bay by wearing our masks and social distancing, because our actions are directly impacting our children’s educational experience. I hope that will allow us to get back in the classroom and on the court soon.”

Braham and Rush City were scheduled for a rematch on Thursday, Oct. 29, but instead the Bombers hosted Isle that night and won in three straight sets.

“Our serve receive was not ‘on’ against Rush City, and without a decent pass to get the play moving, we couldn’t do what we needed to do,” Braham coach Tammi Johnson said. “Our girls were moving better for the match against Isle.

“Unfortunately we were hit with some injuries and illness, so we needed to switch up our lineup and new faces were put in a variety of positions against Isle. The girls handled these changes well and played a great match.”

Giffrow led the way with 11 kills against Isle, with Pierson adding eight and Ella Kuhnke five. At the service line Tessa Burmaster had six aces while Ella Kuhnke and Jenna Bostrom added five and four aces, respectively.

North Branch sweeps a pair

The North Branch volleyball team swept a pair of road matches last week, taking three sets at Chisago Lakes on Wednesday, Oct. 28, before winning at Princeton 3-0 the following evening.

Setter Paige Sheehan was all over the court for the Vikings against Chisago Lakes, finishing with 26 assists while adding five kills, four aces, seven digs and a block. Lindsey Bunes led the offense with nine kills, while Paige Peaslee and Leah Kent had eight kills apiece.

Sheehan had another solid all-around match the following night, again notching 26 assists while collecting four kills, three digs and two blocks. Bunes and Reagan Irons topped North Branch with seven kills each, while Kent had a team-high four aces to go with five kills and five digs.

Cambridge-Isanti wins twice

The Cambridge-Isanti volleyball team also won two matches last week, starting with a strong five-set home victory over Becker on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Ada Schlenker had a big night for the Bluejackets, leading the offense with 18 kills, while Makenzie Coplan and Allyson Treichel added 15 and 12 kills, respectively. Schlenker played a key role on defense with a pair of blocks, while Abbie Higley contributed 24 digs.

Two nights later Cambridge-Isanti went on the road and won in three tight sets at St. Francis, claiming a 25-20, 25-22, 25-21 victory.

Coplin had 11 kills and Treichel had nine to lead the Bluejackets in that category, while Hailey Christenson had 21 assists after notching 40 in five sets the previous night. Abbie Higley collected 14 digs, while Schlenker and Stephanie Gagne combined for six blocks.

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