GWINN - Students who talk in class often get sent to the principal's office.
But volleyball players who talk a lot get a gold star from their coach.
That was a key for the Gwinn varsity team on Thursday night in a 3-1 Mid-Peninsula Conference victory in the Modeltowners gym. GHS (5-2 in the M-PC) prevailed 25-16, 25-18, 18-25, 25-17.
Norway’s Bailey Grayvold goes for the kill as Gwinn’s Megan McGuire tries to block her during the second volleyball game in Gwinn on Thursday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"One of our problems in the third game is that we weren't communicating," said junior hitter Chelsea Moton, who led Gwinn with nine kills while adding two blocks. "Coach has had us doing talking drills."
The coach, Stephanie Bahrman, agreed.
"I really stress talking on the court," she said. "A lot of girls will call the ball for themselves, but I stress to our setter to be the quarterback on the court, getting her to tell people to keep being vocal."
She also said she wants her players to be assertive.
"My biggest pet peeve is when a ball just drops on the court," she said. "Volleyball really is a mental game, and I'd rather have our hitters be aggressive and knock it out of bounds or into the net a couple of times than just give a free ball (to the opposition)."
Moton doesn't have a problem with that, as she indicated when asked if she preferred making a hard slam or a little tip to win a point.
"I enjoy hitting the ball much better," Moton said.
That was also indicated by where she likes her setters to give her the ball.
"I like it right at the net," Morton said. "That way I can get up high over top and knock it down (on the other side)."
Bahrman was pleased with Moton's play on Thursday.
"Chelsea had a great night, and she was pretty aggressive at the net," Bahrman said. "Her hitting has improved so much. She can jump so high, and she's learned to hit her spots, just like (fellow junior middle hitter) Shelby Talsma."
Talsma added eight kills, two blocks and a service ace as they were among a half-dozen Gwinn girls to chalk up multiple kills on Thursday.
"We've got a very well-rounded team," Bahrman said. "I'm happy with how we've improved during this season, though there's still a few things we're working on.
"We want to be at the top of our game when it's time for the districts (tournament)."
For Norway, coach Nicole Anderson was concerned about her team's errors.
"We need to play cleaner ball," she said. "Our unforced errors took us out of the game in matches 1, 2 and 4.
"Leah Mattson was strong up front for us and Bailey Grayvold was scrappy on defense."
Mattson, a junior middle hitter, led all players with 11 kills while adding two aces, a block and a dig. Grayvold, a senior outside hitter, made nine kills while adding 13 digs and a block.
Senior setter Kaylee Sanderson, Bahrman's "quarterback," made 26 of the Modeltowners' 30 assists while coming up with two kills. Junior left hitter Katie Aho had six kills, six digs and a block.
Bahrman was also happy with junior right hitter Bella Wedig's three kills and five aces.
"That's a position (right hitter) that we're strong at where most teams aren't," she said, explaining that it's a position best suited for a lefthander.
In game 1, the teams traded leads early on before Gwinn went ahead for good at 9-8 when senior left hitter Morgan Bruce collected one of her five kills on a directional tip to a hole in Norway's defense.
The home team raced to a 9-1 lead in game 2 on the strength of three straight aces by Bruce, keeping the advantage at five points of more after that.
Then the Modeltowners seemed to lose their energy, trailing for all but a few points in game 3. Norway took the lead for good at 13-12 when senior outside hitter Heather Evosevich made one of her nine kills on a severe cross-court hit that caught the Gwinn front row off guard.
The Knights parlayed their momentum into an early lead in game 4, but a number of unforced errors turned Norway's 5-1 lead into a 7-7 tie a few minutes later.
Gwinn took the lead for good at 9-8 when Moton blocked a kill attempt by Grayvold back into the Norway floor.
The winners completed their conquest with the night's final four points, culminated by Moton's tip of a ball from above the net right down the Norway sideline.
In the JV match, Norway scored a 25-10, 25-18 victory.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.