Thursday, September 24, 2009

Volleyball Match 13: Immanuel v. Blair-Taylor

At Immanuel:
Immanuel 3; Blair-Taylor 0

Game Scores:

Box Score, Game Summary, and Team Stats on (preview)

Video available on

Current Match Record: 11-2
Current Conf. Record: 4-1
Current Game Record: 29-6
Dairyland Conf. Standings

See sports highlight video from WQOW.
(Under Featured Video, click on HS Sports - Thursday)

See Story in the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

Immanuel Lutheran Volleyball 3, Blair-Taylor 0: Lancers stay near top of Dairyland

By Justin Harings
Leader-Telegram staff

Apparently, the Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran volleyball team is staying.

The Lancers, two-time defending champions in the Dairyland Conference, aren't in control this season.

But they're pretty close.

Needing all of 50 minutes, the free-swinging Lancers handled Blair-Taylor, 25-6, 25-12, 25-11, on Thursday night on the Immanuel Lutheran campus and set the stage for a key conference match next week.

"It's nice when we all click, and I think we were on," said Lancers senior libero Renae Markus, who celebrated her 18th birthday with a sweep.

"I don't think we made a lot of errors, which usually works out for us."

The victory kept the Lancers (12-2, 4-1) on the heels of Melrose-Mindoro, which held off Eleva-Strum in five sets Thursday and is unbeaten in the Dairyland.

The Lancers and Mustangs meet Tuesday in Melrose.

A victory would put the Lancers in position to at least share the conference title for the third straight season after losing three all-conference players from last year's team.

Their only Dairyland loss this season came in a five-set affair against Independence last week.

"I've been pleased with, I guess, the rate of success early on this season," Lancers coach Joe Lau said. "I thought the learning curve might be a little bit longer."

After advancing to the WIAA Division 4 sectionals for the first time a year ago, the Lancers lost first-team all-Dairyland setter Stephanie Lau and a combined 372 kills from hitters April Oster and Kelsey Albrecht.

They responded by winning this month's Dairyland tournament - the first time they've done that - and putting themselves on track for a high seed in the postseason.

"I think we lost a lot of good players, but other people stepped up," said Lancers junior setter Heidi Lau, who took over for her older sister at the position and had 25 assists Thursday.

Senior outside hitter Katherine Kazemba played another complete match for the Lancers on Thursday, finishing with 12 kills, eight digs and eight aces. She made the all-conference first team as a junior last season.

"We've just been working hard and working together as a team," Kazemba said.

Two years ago the Lancers went unbeaten in conference and were left with a No. 5 seed in regionals. However, they promptly were swept by Greenwood in the first round. When they won the Dairyland last year, they were rewarded with a No. 1 seed and made good on it before a four-set loss to state-bound Clayton in the D4 sectional semifinals.

"I think last year we had more offensive weapons as far as being able to put the ball away," Joe Lau said. "This year, as a team, we're better passers. That allows our setter to distribute better."

In her first season as the starting setter, Heidi Lau certainly has some options. Much of the Lancers' success comes from Kazemba on the outside, and tall senior Jessica Ohlmann hits a strong ball in the middle.

"You lose some players, and you've got to fill their spots," Markus said. "And that's what we did. We've got a good team.

"We don't have as much height as we did the last couple years, but we sure make use of what we do have."

When the postseason arrives, the Lancers will find themselves sharing a regional with balanced Chippewa Falls McDonell, the current leader in the Western Cloverbelt Conference.

If the Macks win out, they likely would be the regional's No. 1 seed. A strong finish by the Lancers, though, could put them near the front of the line when it comes time for the seeding meeting.

"To be able to repeat last year's and get to sectionals would be a big accomplishment for this team," Joe Lau said. "That's kind of what we're shooting for."

By the time they leave Melrose on Tuesday, the Lancers should have a good progress report.

"We're taking it slow," Markus said, "but we hope to get far."


Immanuel Lutheran def. Blair-Taylor, 25-6, 25-12, 25-11. Immanuel Lutheran leaders: Katherine Kazemba 12 kills, 8 digs, 17-17 serving, 8 aces; Heidi Lau 25 assists, 7-7 serving; Renae Markus 17-17 serving, 2 aces; Alyssa Johannes 13-13 serving; Jessica Ohlmann 7 kills. Record: Immanuel Lutheran 12-2, 4-1.

Varsity Pics:

JV Pics