It had been all road games so far for Lakeland volleyball. They finally made their home debut on Tuesday in a close five-set match.
Tomahawk beat the Thunderbirds 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 17-25, 28-26, 15-9).
The Thunderbirds played catch-up for most of set one before coming on strong late. Down by as many as six points at 9-15, the Thunderbirds closed the set on a 16-8 run.
Kieran Petrie makes a pass from the back of the court in a match against Tomahawk Tuesday, Sept. 12 at the Lakeland Union High School fieldhouse in Minocqua.
(Photo by Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)
“It was a great contest between two well matched teams. A challenge for us in the first set was reading Tomahawk’s offense,” coach Manson Morris said. “Their pace is significantly different from that of other teams, in large part due to their setter’s technique.”
Kieran Petrie had an ace. A few points later, Sloane Timmerman picked up a kill and Stina Peterson a block.
Lakeland still trailed 15-19. The Thunderbirds then went on a 5-0 run with Greta Johnson serving. Meg Pfannerstill powered down a free ball. Pfannerstill passed it to Peterson who set it back to Pfannerstill who tipped it at the net for a point. That tied the game at 19-19.
The next point, Petrie-Meela Khan-Pfannerstill combined for another tip and point. Lakeland got the breathing room they needed when Khan set up Ava Evenhouse for a kill. Lakeland led 23-20.
The Hatchets battled all night. They picked up a kill to make it 24-23, Lakeland’s lead. With Tomahawk on the serve, Karlin Williams got a dig with Khan going over the net on two for the point.
Lakeland led 1-0 on their home floor.
Tomahawk got out to an early lead again in the second set with a 4-0 advantage. The serving of Johnson got the Thunderbirds back in front at 5-4.
From that point on, the Thunderbirds and Hatchets mostly traded off points.
Late in the set, Johnson passed it to Khan who set up Evenhouse with a kill. Tayiah Bauman followed that with a service error. Lakeland immediately responded with a Pfannerstill kill, assisted by Bauman. Tomahawk led 20-19.
A few points later, Macy Jankiewicz got a kill for the Hatchets. Lakeland called a timeout down 20-23.
The Hatchets got the last point they needed with another kill by Jankiewicz, the assist to Chloe Buckwalter. Tomahawk broke Lakeland’s 13-set win streak.
Facing adversity, Lakeland played their best volleyball in the third set. Timmerman had two kills early on. Lakeland led 4-3.
Pfannerstill asserted her dominance with a stretch of kills. Khan had assists on the first two with Bauman the assist on the third one and Karlin Williams the pass. Lakeland was finding their offensive rhythm.
Bauman then pushed the ball over the net, forcing the Hatchets to call their first timeout. After the timeout, Lakeland won a long rally. They were wearing down Tomahawk.
Khan had two straight aces. The Hatchets called their second timeout. Lakeland led 17-9.
Looking to get back into the match, Tomahawk had two service errors, one of them by Emerson Lange.
Up 21-15, the Thunderbirds went on a key 3-0 run with Bauman on the serve. She had an ace and Khan a kill. Pfannerstill delivered another kill as well — Johnson had the pass and Bauman the assist.
“The match provided a great opportunity for our athletes to enhance their ability to analyze an opponent and adapt our defense. Another key aspect of adaptation is tailoring our offensive approach to the opponent's defense,” Morris said. “Every defense has holes, and our girls are becoming more and more skilled at finding and capitalizing on gaps.”
Lakeland went back in front at 2-1. They moved to a fourth set, the first four-set match of the season for Lakeland.
The Thunderbirds had a chance to put the game away on their home floor in the fourth set. It was another back-and-forth set as both teams traded off points.
Williams-Bauman-Pfannerstill connected for two points. Pfannerstill had an ace to put Lakeland up 9-7 early on.
The Thunderbirds went on a huge run with Williams serving. Tomahawk hit the net and Evenhouse tipped it over for a point. Khan assisted Pfannerstill for a point and Lakeland got a block defensively. They were up 21-12, needing four more points to take the match.
Evenhouse had a block to put the Thunderbirds up 23-15. Shortly after, Morris substituted out a few players, including Pfannerstill. Grace Redenbaugh, Avery McKinney and Mckaelynn Schettino all saw playing time late in set four.
Lakeland eventually led 24-17. The Thunderbirds needed just one more point.
All of a sudden, the Hatchets started catching up.
Lakeland struggling with their serve receive. The Hatchets were on a 4-0 run to close the gap to 24-21, Lakeland’s lead. Morris put Pfannerstill and Williams back in the game.
The Hatchets continued to score points. Lakeland called a timeout. Tomahawk finally got the game all tied up at 24-24. All-conference libero Samantha Gebauer served all seven points that Tomahawk scored.
Lakeland had no quit. Pfannerstill passed it to Bauman who assisted Evenhouse for a tip and a point. They went back out in front at 25-24. Then, Petrie committed a service error. The game was tied at 25-25.
Tomahawk re-took the lead at 26-25, causing Lakeland to call a timeout. It was Tomahawk’s first lead since they led 6-5 in the fourth set. Coming off the timeout, Peterson’s tip fell in for a point. Once again, the game was tied at 26-26.
A Tomahawk tip got them another lead at 27-26. They picked up their last point of the set when the ball found the court on Lakeland’s side.
Just like that, the match was tied at 2-2. It would come down to a fifth set, first to 15, win by two.
The first point went to the Hatchets in the fifth set. They won the first point of all five sets. Lakeland took a small 2-1 lead after a service error by Buckwalter and a Tomahawk attack error. That would be the only lead Lakeland would get.
The momentum from the end of set four stayed with Tomahawk. They picked up a point on a rally and then an ace. Lakeland trailed 4-8, calling a timeout.
A Khan to Pfannerstill connection made it a 5-9 game, Tomahawk’s lead. If Lakeland wanted to get back in the set, it needed to happen quick. The next serve, Bauman served it out of bounds.
The Hatchets ran their offense to pick up a couple of kills. They started to pull away. They finished the match with a kill to win set five 15-9.
“I’m looking forward to our conference tournament rematch,” Morris said.
Up next, the Thunderbirds (7-6, 2-1) play in the first Great Northern Conference Meet on Saturday, Sept. 16. They’ll play Mosinee in the first round. After a bye during round two, Lakeland finishes with a match vs. Northland Pines for round three.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].