Wolves earn top seed in 7A

Home playoff tilt on Wednesday

by Tom Coombe
After going unbeaten but with postseason play wiped out because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 campaign ended an empty note for Ely’s high school volleyball team.
A year later, the Timberwolves finally have a chance to make their mark when it counts - with play beginning this week in the Section 7A tournament and on the heels of another banner regular season.
Winners of 19 of 25 regular season contests, including four in a row, the Wolves will most likely have the number one seed in the north half of Section 7A when rankings are determined over the weekend.
It means Ely will open play at home, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, against an opponent to be determined.
The Wolves would also have another game on their home court Friday should they advance, with the 7A semifinals and finals slated for Hibbing the following week.
Both in 2018 and 2019, Ely reached the 7A semifinals, and the Wolves seem poised to make another deep run in a wide-open section.
Ely and Northeast Range should have the top two seeds out of the north, while Barnum, Floodwood and South Ridge are the top-three teams in the south heading into the tournament.
The Wolves own regular season victories over Northeast Range, Floodwood and South Ridge and were competitive with Barnum in an Oct. 9 loss at the Mesabi East Tournament.
Ely’s success could bode well as it moves into the playoffs under first-year head coach Megan Wognum.
“I am so proud of how hard these girls have worked this season,“ said Wognum.
“Although our regular season is over, the real work begins now as we head into playoffs. We look forward to some solid practices in the days ahead.”
Ely recognized its seniors Tuesday and wasted no time in taking care of an overmatched Bigfork team.
The Wolves cruised 25-17, 25-7, 25-13 as junior Rachel Coughlin led the way with 11 kills, six digs and three ace serves.
Senior setter Katrina Seliskar distributed the ball to an array of Ely hitters, finishing with 25 assists to go with 10 digs, three kills and three ace serves.
Junior Kate Coughlin had seven kills and senior Kellen Thomas (five kills) and Raven Sainio (four) were next.
Another junior, Madeline Kallberg, also recorded four kills, while seniors Charly Flom and Annikka Mattson added three digs each.
One night earlier, the Wolves shook off a second set defeat and won 25-21, 25-27, 25-14, 25-16 at Cook County.
Rachel Coughlin had a match-high 19 kills and 23 digs, while Thomas also contributed a double-double, finishing with 11 kills and 16 digs.
Kallberg wound up with six kills and Kate Coughlin finished with five, while Flom helped pace Ely’s defense with nine digs.
Sainio also came up with nine digs and fellow senior Courtney Eilrich had three, and Seliskar netted 41 assists to go with 13 digs and three ace serves.
“We had to fine tune our passing a bit after the first set and the players stepped up an did just that,“ said Wognum.
In an Oct. 14 home contest, Ely blew out Nashwauk-Keewatin 25-9, 25-19, 25-17 as Seliskar passed her way to 28 assists.
Rachel Coughlin led Ely at the net with 11 kills, nine digs and four blocks, and Mattson delivered three ace serves.
Kallberg had five kills, Thomas had four and Sainio contributed three, while Flom had five digs and two kills. Eilrich notched four digs.
On defense, Kate Coughlin reached double digits with 11 digs.
• Ely closed out a perfect junior varsity season with an easy sweep of Bigfork, and Ely’s C-squad had only one loss during the fall.