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Forest Lake celebrates a successful block during the third set of their home victory over White Bear Lake on Friday, Oct. 23.

Forest Lake faces tough stretch of road games

The Forest Lake volleyball team hopes it may have turned the corner with a three-set home victory over White Bear Lake on Friday, Oct. 23.

The Rangers swept the match by scores of 25-15, 25-10 and 25-16 by dominating the Bears at the net while also smoothing out bumps in its receiving and passing.

“It was a great step forward,” coach Sherri Alm said. “Hopefully that will give us some confidence moving forward, because that confidence piece is important.”

The victory was important, since it came on the heels of a four-set loss at Mounds View on Tuesday, Oct. 20. In that match Forest Lake won the first set 25-22 before dropping the next three.

“We came out ready to play, and we took the first set against a good team,” Alm said. “Then we had a couple of misses here and there, a couple of communications problems. And I thought Mounds View mixed up their shots well, although I questioned our focus at times.

“There were just a lot of little pieces that weren’t right. And you can’t do that against a good team like Mounds View.”

The Rangers lost the final three sets by scores of 25-20, 25-20 and 25-21 despite a strong performance by senior outside hitter Kailey Mroszak, who led the team with 12 kills and added a pair of service aces. Senior middle hitter Maddie Demars, who had 11 kills in that match, said she and her teammates learned some valuable lessons in the loss.

“It was a close match with a lot of back and forth,” Demars said. “It came down to stopping runs, and we had some trouble stopping that. But in practice in the days after that, you saw everyone’s energy step up.”

All of that energy spilled onto the floor Friday night against White Bear Lake. The first set was close at the onset, with Forest Lake’s early lead seemingly stuck on one or two points before the Rangers pulled away with a 10-2 finish.

“Right away I was thinking, ‘Let’s go. Let’s not make this a match,’” Alm said. “And then we got rolling.”

The Rangers served well, putting 95% of their serves in play, and eventually began to dominate the net. Demars had six blocks, while senior Grace Muellner and sophomores Kaysie Bakke and Bethany Weiss added three blocks each.

“I thought in this match everyone played their positions really, really well,” Demars said. “We were able to beat the ball to a spot, and that helped in moving the ball along to the next person in the best position possible.”

In the third set Alm was able to substitute liberally. But that did not stop the Rangers from rolling to the one-sided win.

“I had the opportunity to get most everybody in, and that was awesome, because everyone deserves to play,” Alm said. “So to be able to give everyone some court time was really a good feeling.”

Demars said she expects Forest Lake’s depth will become a strength as players get comfortable together.

“We have a lot of strong players, a lot of weapons,” she said. “To this point, we’ve been figuring out who works well with whom, and trying to maintain our consistency. Now we’re starting to figure that out, and that will help us become more consistent.”

Alm hopes the momentum of the White Bear Lake victory will help Forest Lake in a tough stretch of matches that began with a home contest against East Ridge on Tuesday, Oct. 27, that was not completed before press time.

The Rangers travel to Cretin-Derham Hall on Thursday, Oct. 29, for the first of three straight road matches, a stretch that includes contests at Stillwater on Wednesday, Nov. 4, and at Roseville the following evening.

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