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Ellsworth, Spring Valley volleyball seasons end in first round of playoffs

As the first round of the WIAA high school volleyball playoffs is now over, multiple local teams including the Ellsworth Panthers and Spring Valley Cardinals were knocked out of the playoffs in their respective playoff brackets.

The Ellsworth Panthers struggled in the regular season with a young and inexperienced varsity roster against some of the toughest teams in the Middle Border Conference such as the Osceola Chieftains, Somerset Spartans and Prescott Cardinals. Because of the below-average regular season record, the Panthers received the 12th seed in the Division 2 playoff bracket.

The first-round draw for Ellsworth was against the #5 seed Osceola Chieftains, a team that swept the Panthers in a conference matchup in September. The first-round playoff matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 19, followed the same trajectory as the aforementioned September matchup. The first set was the closest of the three for the Panthers and it was a nine-point loss.

In that first set, Osceola jumped out to a quick lead and the Chieftains’ defense had a dominant showing against the Ellsworth offense. The 25-16 victory gave Osceola a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. The second set was almost identical to the first. Another hot Osceola start generated an early lead that was carried to the end of the set in a 25-15 victory to take a 2-0 series lead.

The third set was the largest margin of victory for the series. The 25-14 victory for the Chieftains was the final set victory in the 3-0 first-round sweep of the Ellsworth Panthers. After the loss earlier this season against Osceola, Panthers head coach Nicole Vande Berg stated that this is a young Ellsworth team that didn’t have much varsity experience coming into the year.

Spring Valley swept by #8 Luther

The Spring Valley Cardinals also had their season end in the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday, Oct. 19, in three sets against Luther.

The first set of the night wasn’t even competitive. Luther jumped out to a quick lead and the Spring Valley offense and defense struggled to generate any kind of resistance to the Luther scoring barrage. When all was said and done, Luther had won the first set 25-6 and took serious momentum into the second set.

The second set was more competitive but still culminated in a Luther victory. Spring Valley battled for the first several points but again fell behind. It was a nine-point loss for the Cardinals in the second set. The third and final set was a chance for Spring Valley to prevent a firstround playoff exit in the form of a sweep. However, Luther’s home-court advantage and a rolling offense couldn’t be stopped. It was a 10point win for Luther in the third set to sweep the series against Spring Valley.

Luther advanced to #1 seed Fall Creek on Thursday, Oct. 21, a series that Luther lost in three sets against the best team in the bracket.

Elmwood/Plum City defeats Regis, loses to Osseo-Fairchild

The Elmwood/Plum City Wolves’ season ended in the second round of the playoffs against #3 seed Osseo-Fairchild, a game that the Wolves played after defeating Regis in the first round of the postseason.

The Tuesday, Oct. 19, first-round playoff game featured the #6 seed Wolves hosting the #11 seed Regis. Throughout a majority of the match, both teams were competitive and in different instances went on small scoring runs and extensive volley plays.

In the first set, the Wolves and Regis battled for the first several points. As the set went on, the Wolves slowly began to pull away and put together a scoring run that resulted in a 25-17 first set victory to take a 1-0 series lead. The second set was more of the same for Elmwood/Plum City. The momentum of the first set contributed to an early Wolves lead in the second set that translated to a 25-16 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

The third set was when Regis began to put up some serious resistance. With its back against the ball in the third set facing a sweep, Regis played impressive volleyball and defeated the Wolves 25-14 to force a fourth set. However, Regis couldn’t continue how they played in the third set. Elmwood/Plum City reverted to earlier tendencies and won the set 25-15 to advance to the second round against Osseo-Fairchild.

Because Osseo-Fairchild is a #3 seed, Elmwood/ Plum City had to travel to Osseo-Fairchild for the Thursday night, Oct. 21, second-round playoff matchup.

As the match began it was clear that Osseo-Fairchild earned its #3 seed ranking in the Division 3 playoff bracket. Osseo-Fairchild won the first set 25-16, the second set 25-14, and then completed the sweep of Elmwood/Plum City 25-16 in the third set for a 3-0 series victory at home against the Wolves.

With the aforementioned three local teams getting knocked out of the playoffs, only one Pierce County team remains in the postseason, the River Falls Wildcats. River Falls will play on Thursday, Oct. 28, at Wausau West at 5 p.m. in the first round of the sectional playoffs.

October 27, 2021