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Junior Bethany Weiss pounds a kill against Elk River. Weiss finished with 13 kills in Forest Lake’s three-set victory. 

The Forest Lake volleyball team took a step forward in a three-set sweep of Elk River at home on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

While the Rangers were challenged in a 25-23, 26-24, 25-23 victory, Forest Lake showed improvement following its season-opening win over North Branch, which took five sets.

“I thought we were hungry against Elk River,” coach Sherri Alm said. “We weren’t satisfied with the level of play [in the opener]. We talked about it in practice, because what we do in practice carries over into the game.

“But they were hungry to improve, to hold themselves accountable. And I think that showed in this match. Even when they would make a run, we stayed focused and dialed in.”

One of the standouts for the Rangers was senior outside hitter Emily McPhee. Despite swinging against Elk River standout Elle Cotton, who stands 6-0, the 5-6 McPhee played well, according to Alm.

“They may have had an easier swing against Emily, but her defense was good and they really had to earn their points,” Alm said of McPhee, who finished with five kills and 15 digs. “I thought our defense really carried the night. I thought our serving and passing were really strong. I also thought we served tough.”

Junior Bethany Weiss led the offense with 13 kills, while sophomore Maddie Muellner added nine. Sophomore setter Katie Brandl finished with 32 assists.

Defensively senior Maddie Sandstrom had 16 digs, and she also added three service aces while senior Ava Neururer added two aces.

It all added up to a more satisfying win, according to Alm.

“This one feels better,” she said. “We did a lot of nice things: Our passing improved, and that gave us some opportunities. Some of our hitting connections were a little rusty, but you could see some promise there.”

Forest Lake returns to action on Thursday, Sept. 9, when it hosts Anoka in a 7 p.m. start.

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