The SEC volleyball series between West foes Grand Meadow and LeRoy-Ostrander has been dominated by the Superlarks. Entering the teams’ second league meeting of 2023, GM had won 16 straight and 18 overall contests versus the Cardinals. L-O’s last win over GM came in 2014 when Sam Siskow was the Cards big hitter. Under current coach Lindsay Milks, the Cardinals have been close the last two years. They twice lost to GM 3-1 last season and fell 3-2 earlier this year.
In the second meeting, GM’s supremacy over L-O finally ended. All four games were lopsided up to 20 points. L-O led game one 15-5, game three 13-7, and game four 14-6, building match-high leads of 10, 7 and 12 respectively. GM led game two 16-4, leading by as many at 16. In the sets they trailed, the Larks were able to tightened up the scores. In game one, they pulled to down three as late as 22-19, but L-O prevailed 25-21. In game three, GM replied to trailing 13-6 with a 7-1 run to close to down 14-13. L-O then scored four straight for a 18-13 lead and went on to win 25-20. In game four, a 10-1 GM spurt trimmed an 18-6 L-O lead to 19-16. Lark Haylie Paul authored a six-point serving session in the run. But L-O wanted it more. Top hitter, junior Benita Nolt scored their final four points, three by kill, one by block, as they took the set 25-17.
The Cardinals got the 3-1 win (25-21, 12-25, 25-20, 25-17) in a four-set match with just three total ties! Nolt (20 kills, 14 digs, 4 total blks) continued her excellent year. The junior had seven set-four kills. Jenna Olson (40 assists, 19 digs) and Brooke Jasper (15 kills, 22 digs) also had big nights. Maria Almaraz-Nolt (19 digs), Keira Lewison (12 digs, 20-20 serving, 3 aces), and Kaci McKenzie (5 kills) helped. GM was led by Lauren Queensland (10 kills, 15 digs), Cheyenne Bakken (25 digs), Lexy Foster (12 kills), and Hallie Hendrickson (30 assists, 5 digs). Paul (6 kills, 12 digs, 19-20 serving), Kendall Jack (6 kills, 7 digs), and Hailey Lovejoy (9 digs) helped. L-O then beat G-E 3-0 (25-11, 25-11, 25-19). Nolt (20 kills, 11 digs), Olson (30 assists, 10 digs), Jasper (8 kills, 7 digs), McKenzie (8 kills, 16-16 serving, 4 aces), Lewison (3 kills, 7 digs, 15-15 serving, 3 aces), Almaraz-Nolt (9 digs), and Maddi Huntley (12 digs) did work. GM rallied by beating Lyle/Pacelli 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-6). Hendrickson (30 assists, 6 digs, 16-18 serving, 4 aces), L-Foster (14 kills, 6 digs), Queensland (3 kills, 12 digs), Paul (7 kills, 7 digs), Lovejoy (5 kills), Bakken (8 digs), and Gracie Foster (14-14 serving, 6 aces) led that effort. Each team had a weekend tourney (See “Non-Conference Volleyball”). Not only did L-O end a big series losing streak, and snap GM’s six-game winning streak, but the win put the Cards (10-3, 18-9) in a tie with the Larks (10-3, 13-12) atop the SEC-West. Each has one league contest left. L-O’s 18 wins is their best since 2012 (20-10).