Domination in the debut
by Tom Coombe
The Ely Timberwolves spread the wealth in a dominant season-opener on Tuesday night.
Depth was on a display in Babbitt, where Ely opened the high school volleyball season with a 25-11, 25-10, 25-17.
Ely had 15 players on its roster compared to just eight for the rebuilding Nighthawks, and the Wolves made the most of that advantage.
“A lot of people were able to contribute and a lot of people touched the floor which was nice to see,” said Ely Head Coach Megan Wognum.
In her Ely debut, junior transfer Hannah Penke had seven kills and six ace serves, while sophomores Clare Thomas and Lilli Rechichi added six kills each.
The Nighthawks, who were runners-up in Section 7A last year but lost heavily to graduation, hung with Ely for part of the first game.
But it was only temporary.
After Northeast Range pulled to within five at 13-8, Ely rattled off six straight points to take control of the opening set and finished it with a 12-3 run.
It was more of the same in the second, as the Wolves rolled out to a 10-3 lead and never looked back.
The Wolves rotated numerous players into and out of the lineup, and Northeast Range, which got five kills from Maizy Sundblad, had a brief 5-3 lead in the third set.
Again, the advantage was temporary as Ely rallied and soon took control of the set en route to a sweep.
The Wolves are employing a new attack this fall, one that gets multiple setters into the offense.
Junior Sarah Visser passed her way to 15 set assists for the winners, and senior Madeline Kallberg also hit double digits in set assists with 12.
All-conference senior hitter Rachel Coughlin was again powerful at the net, adding four kills to Ely’s arsenal.
Kallberg finished with three kills, Natasha Fulkrod added two more while Kate Coughlin, Audrey Thomas and Aubree Gerlovich all had one.
Kate Coughlin finished with 11 digs, and Ely was potent at the serving line with Rachel Coughlin recording four aces and both Visser and Rechichi contributing two each.
“I think everything went really well,” said Wognum. “The things we were practicing on and focusing on went really well tonight. I definitely think we have plenty to improve on.”
For Northeast Range, Danica Sundblad was a perfect 10-for-10 at the serving line and Morgan Bush was six-for-six.
It was an overall Ely sweep, with the Wolves also winning the junior varsity matchup and coming home with a junior high victory as well.
The Wolves make their home debut Tuesday against Littlefork-Big Falls and follow up two nights later with another home contest with Cherry.
A Sept. 10 road trip to Coleraine follows as the Wolves take part in the Greenway Tournament, the first of three day-long Saturday events this season.