North Star finds energy, power in 3-0 win over Four Winds/Minnewaukan
CANDO - Although the North Star Bearcats won their first set against Four Winds/Minnewaukan Thursday evening, senior middle hitter Danielle Hagler did not believe her team’s energy was 100%. While North Star dominated the first set by all stretches of the box score (25-8), something simply seemed off.
With a flip of a switch, the energy, communication and speed all came to life for the Bearcats as they won the two subsequent sets (25-9 and 25-10) and swept Four Winds/Minnewaukan at North Star Public School on Sep. 16.
With the sweep, North Star (5-0) has now swept all five of their opponents dating back to Aug. 31 (Rugby High School). Meanwhile, Four Winds/Minnewaukan (0-4) has dropped their last six matches against North Star dating back to the 2017-18 season.
“I think the whole beginning of the season has been great for us so far,” North Star head coach Aubree Page said after the match. “We have really been practicing hard on both sides of the court and are just coming around.”
The practice immediately made itself apparent within the first five minutes of the first set. The Bearcat duo in Hagler and Gracie Miller did what was necessary up the middle to overwhelm a youthful Four Winds/Minnewaukan defensive front. As a result, North Star won eight of the first 10 rallies. The Bearcats closed out the first set by winning four of the final six rallies.
Something, however, seemed bland. Although the Bearcats got the job done and capitalized on a slew of Four Winds/Minnewaukan serving errors, North Star’s power and communication were not up to snuff.
“During the first set, our energy was low,” Hagler said. “We still won, but it was definitely low. During the second set, we figured out we need to have high energy no matter the competition or anything. I think that is what happened, and it definitely worked out for us.”
After a brief conversation, Hagler and the rest of the team trotted back onto the court and immediately found the spark that was vibrant enough to North Star’s liking. Hagler, Miller and the rest of the lineup rotated, communicated, and executed with more precision via a combination of high-octane kills and much-needed digs.
To Hagler, the execution during the second set was just what the doctor ordered. Hagler finished the game with 20 kills. With the performance, Hagler now has 42 total kills dating back to North Star’s 3-0 sweep against Our Redeemer’s High School on Sep. 14 (she had 22 during that match).
“It is definitely a big momentum swing,” Hagler said. “We just have to keep going and definitely not back down no matter who we are playing. No matter the competition, we have to play hard and keep the energy no matter what.”
North Star’s momentum did not cease after the second set’s conclusion, however. North Star not only continued to display the power in the spikes but additionally capitalized on nearly every single rally. The Bearcats won 15 of the first 16 rallies to begin the third set.
Page’s message to her team was simple through the match’s latter stages: bring the energy and make the most of the opportunity.
“We just told the girls tonight to have fun and bring their own energy,” Page said. “Do what we can do on our side of the court no matter who we play.”
A 25-10 set three win sealed the sweep in North Star’s favor and additionally netted the Bearcats with their first region win of the year. To Hagler, it is all about maintaining momentum and remain a role model as region play begins to kick into gear.
“I know a lot of people look at as a leader,” Hagler said. “As a captain, I have to make sure I am always being a positive leader and am keeping everyone going.”
To supplement her 20 kills, Hagler additionally tallied 10 digs, second on the team (Miller led the team with 14 digs during the match). Miller and Hagler additionally led the team in aces with seven and six, respectively.
North Star will continue their four-match homestand with a date against Park River/Fordville-Lankin on Sep. 21. Four Winds/Minnewaukan, meanwhile, will begin a three-match home stint on Sep. 20 when they take on Rolette.