E-TC shows toughness in win over Hurley

HURLEY — Ewen-Trout Creek lost the first set but made a strong comeback and swept the next three sets in defeating Hurley 21-25, 27-25, 26-24 and 25-23 at the Hurley K-12 School on Tuesday. All the sets were long, competitive and intense.

“I am so proud of the girls,” E-TC coach Kaitlin Ruotsala said. “That was our first non-tournament regular season game win. The girls were very excited after the match. 

“When we lost game one, I tried to stay positive with the girls. I told them ‘We’re in this.’ All the games were so close, so competitive. We got ahead in the last three sets and Hurley would come back. We kept our composure. The girls will get down on themselves quick, but they didn’t do that this match.”

Hurley coach Kathy Czarnecki said things were looking good for the Midgettes after game one, but Hurley couldn’t keep their momentum going.

“We won the first set and I thought this would be our match,” Czarnecki said. “We were in rhythm, moving and talking and we had our competitive edge. E-TC started playing better in the second set and kept working hard. This season we’re working on finishing out games, the mental aspect of the games. But it was a very good match with long volleys and both teams played hard.”  

In the first set, the lead see-sawed back and forth early on until Hurley’s Lexi Swanson served up an ace to put the Midgettes up 14-7. 

E-TC responded with Kristina Andrus making a hit over the net that landed just inside the sideline and Kaitlyn Brady swatted an ace as the Panthers got closer at 18-14.

But Hurley was in control of this set and with the score at 22-19, Shannon Skoveria smashed a kill shot down the line and E-TC mis-hit two balls as the Midgettes took the first set, 25-21. 

“Our score was pretty close in game one,” E-TC’s Maddy Cronkright said. “In the huddle, our coach told us we were capable of beating them. They were all close games. We started talking much more, we got more enthusiastic and we didn’t get down. We’re improving. That’s the best hitting I’ve done so far.”

Cronkright had a very big night with 11 kills and three aces.

“Maddy played well and had some key hits,” Ruotsala said.

Game two started out Hurley’s way with a quick 6-0 lead and scoring from Brittney Clemens, Swanson, Shannon Skoviera and Ally Rye. The lead extended out to 13-7 on kills by Meghan Wiercinski and Mahra Wick.

E-TC’s Paige Berglund came through when she made a tip that fell in and a kill shot as the Panthers closed to within 14-12.

Hurley’s Catelyn Nelson nailed a service ace and when the Panthers air-mailed a shot long, Hurley was back on top 18-12. 

Conkright responded with two kills and an ace to tie the set at 23-23. Then it went to 24-24 and 25-25.

But when Hurley’s kill shot went wide and they made a tip into the net, E-TC had won an exciting set 27-25.

In game three, E-TC’s Elise Besonen started started serving and just never quit until she gave the Panthers a 10-2 advantage with eight straight serving points, including three aces. 

But Skoviera wasn’t about to be outdone as she served seven points with an ace and pulled Hurley back into the set at 10-9. Nelson’s kill gave the Midgettes a 13-10 advantage.

When Nelson went ace, ace, the Midgettes went up 18-15, but Hurley hit shots into the net and when they whiffed on a shot trying to make a kill shot and the set was tied 18-18. 

Hurley hit another shot wide and Cronkright smashed a kill and Brady and Besonen aced Hurley to take the lead at 22-21. 

E-TC’s Ava Moilanen made a booming kill and Hurley mis-hit two shots as the Panthers won the set 26-24.

E-TC started off the fifth set with a splash as Besonen and Cronkright scored points and Hurley mis-fired on shots as the Panthers started with an 8-1 lead. 

When Cronkright had a block at the net and served two straight aces with Moilanen adding a kill, the lead ballooned to 13-5.

But Hurley refused to give in and behind Camryn Corullo’s serving, Hurley climbed back into the game at 13-10.

Once again, E-TC increased its lead to 17-10, but the Midgettes got within 17-16 with Clement’s six serving points. Down the stretch, the Panther lead fluctuated between zero and two points until Hurley served shots long and wide and E-TC had the set and match at 25-23.

Hurley’s hitting attack was led by Brittney Clement (seven kills) and Lexi Swanson (six kills). 

Shannon Skoviera nailed six aces and Catelyn Nelson had five. 

Ally Rye was Hurley’s assist leader with 13 and Signe Buerger had 12.

Besides Cronkright’s mega-night, Besonen led the Panthers in aces with five and Paige Berglund, Moilanen and Kristina Andrus all had three kills. 

Hurley won the junior varsity match two games to one.

E-TC is at home on Thursday to take on Watersmeet with the JV game starting at 6 p.m. EDT.

The Midgettes host Butternut in a varsity only game on Thursday at 6 p.m.