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Spartans dealing with loss of team member

Volleyball practice became a time for the Somerset girls to heal a bit on Monday.

The Spartans were dealing with the news that freshman team member Bailey Belisle, 14, died over the weekend from a fall at Palisade Head, a landmark along the Lake Superior shore north of Duluth.

Somerset varsity volleyball coach Sarah Praschak had Belisle as an elementary student, and now again as a high school freshman. Praschak said Belisle was an active, energetic girl.

"She was just sweet, very nice. Fun and friendly," Praschak said.

PREVIOUSLY: Somerset student dies in hiking accident

The Spartans elected to practice on Monday, but Tuesday's match against Spring Valley was postponed.

The Somerset varsity team is coming off an outstanding performance at the Hudson Invitational on Saturday. The Spartans reached the championship match before losing to Hudson in the title round. To reach the finals, the Spartans defeated Menomonie, Superior and Baldwin-Woodville. And the Spartans won convincingly in all three matches.

"We played out of our minds," Praschak said. "Everything flowed, everything clicked. Getting to the championship match was very exciting."

The Spartans don't have the hitters to be an overpowering team. Praschak said the team is working hard to learn its strengths, like placing hits and being good passers. In the first three rounds on Saturday, the Spartans only had one total missed serve.

The Spartans were without Brooke Beuthling and Kat Praschak for most of the action Saturday because they were at ACT testing. Coach Praschak said Tori Gareis, Grace Lambert and Kristine Scherz stepped in and helped the Spartans maintain a high level of play.

Hannah Waskosky led the team's hitting attack on Saturday, with Anna Rybacki and Taylor Sporleder also making strong contributions.

Last Tuesday, the Spartans hosted Colfax in a non-conference match. This was an entertaining match with both teams playing with a high intensity. The Spartans won the opening set 27-25, but Colfax came back to take the final three sets.

The Spartans' dedication to be strong passers showed in this match. Praschak said that's where the team spends most of its time in practice.

"Hannah (Waskosky), Brooke (Beuthling) and Kat (Praschak)," are my best passers," Coach Praschak said.

Blocking is becoming more of a factor for the Spartans. Rybacki and Brit Buchanan combined for 12 successful blocks in this match.

The Spartans are now starting their Middle Border Conference schedule. It begins Thursday with a bout at Osceola. (This match has now been postponed). The Spartans will play a home MBC match next Tuesday against Prescott

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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