Ely dominates at Greenway Tourney, improves to 8-0
TOURNAMENT CHAMPS - The Ely high school volleyball team won the Greenway Tournament to remain undefeated. Pictured are: Back row (l-r): Coach Randi Walker, Charlotte Hegman, Ruby Lowe, Sadie Rechichi, Amelia Penke, Audrey Kallberg, Hannah Penke, Lilli Rechichi, Head Coach Megan Wognum. Front row: Sarah Visser, Clare Thomas, Aubree Gerlovich.
by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school volleyball team is turning back challenges without much of a sweat.
The Timberwolves are off to a perfect 8-0 start, including four consecutive sweeps and a first-place finish at last weekend’s Greenway Tournament.
Chisholm loomed as a potential obstacle in pool play but the Wolves disposed of the Bluestreaks - and did so handily.
Ely also pounded Cherry to reach the medal round of the nine-team event, where it turned back a pair of Class AA teams - International Falls and host Greenway.
Add it all up and the Wolves are again asserting themselves as one of the best small-school teams in northeastern Minnesota and they’re the only 7A team without a defeat.
The most daunting obstacles are ahead, however, for the Wolves.
After Monday night’s home game with Lakeview Christian and a Tuesday trip to International Falls, the Wolves head south to Burnsville for next weekend’s Class A Showcase.
The invitation-only event at Burnsville will include several of the state’s top Class A teams, including much of last year’s state tournament field.
Matchups will be determined Wednesday morning and Ely opens play at either 5:30 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Showcase figures to provide a much more difficult test than the Sept. 9 Greenway event, where the Wolves again captured the title.
• Junior Lilli Rechichi jumpstarted a big day in Ely’s opener, delivering 12 kills and three digs in a 25-11, 25-8 victory over Cherry.
Clare Thomas was dominant at the serving line, coming up with six aces to go with five kills.
Senior Hannah Penke added four kills, eight digs and two aces, while freshman Audrey Kallberg contributed three kills.
Setters Sarah Visser and Aubree Gerlovich had 10 set assist apiece.
• The Wolves had a battle with Chisholm early, but then asserted control and won going away - 25-21, 25-10.
Visser passed her way to 14 assists with eight digs, and Penke reached double digits at the net with 10 kills.
Rechichi followed with seven kills, 10 digs and three aces, with Thomas (five kills) and Kallberg (four) adding more variety to the Ely attack.
Thomas and Kallberg also helped on defense with nine digs each and Amelia Penke had eight set assists.
• Ely moved into the first-place round with the win and downed International Falls 25-12, 25-13 as six different Wolves had ace serves - including Kallberg and Sadie Rechichi with three apiece.
Lilli Rechichi led with nine kills, Thomas recorded five, Hannah Penke wound up with four and Kallberg had three.
Charlotte Hegman and Ruby Lowe, two Ely reserves, also had kills in the win and Gerlovich notched six digs.
Visser and Amelia Penke combined for 18 assists.
• The finale was Ely’s closest matchup of the day.
Host Greenway stayed close but couldn’t get past the Wolves, who prevailed 25-23, 25-20.
Lilli Rechichi recorded a double-double with 10 kills and 11 digs, with Hannah Penke close behind with nine kills and 11 digs.
Ely’s defense was crisp with Sadie Rechichi and Visser both getting nine digs.
Visser also had a team-high 16 assists and Amelia Penke finished with nine.
Kallberg showed power with five kills and Thomas added four, and Lilli Rechichi also came up strong with three solo blocks.