WINTHROP - It was an interesting way to start the 2012 volleyball season Tuesday night when the Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Thunderbirds met the Sibley East Wolverines.
While GFW took the match 25-21, 26-24, 25-27, 25-21, in all wins the teams had to erase at least a five-point deficit midway through the set.
Both squads took a hit from last year's graduation, with the Wolverines starting just one senior, while the Thunderbirds starters are all juniors and seniors, but are inexperienced in varsity play.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop’s Katelyn Seehafer (5) spikes the ball past the block attempt of Sibley East’s Mikayla Perschau during the first game of the match Monday at GFW High School in Winthrop.
"The first two sets, we had a lot of errors," GFW coach Chris Wortz said. "We have an inexperienced team, with a lot of the leadership coming from the back row. Our goal is to keep the ball in play and see how things work out. We knew it was going to be a close match and we hustled all around."
Sibley East clung to close leads in the early going of the first set before GFW tied it at 9-9. At that point, the Wolverines went on a 9-2 run and grabbed a 18-11 lead.
But it wouldn't hold, as the Thunderbirds rallied to take a 21-20 lead after a couple of unforced errors by Sibley East. An ace by Edie Beranek gave GFW the opening set, with 15 of the 25 points coming from unforced Wolverine errors.
The second set started out the same as the first, with Sibley East at one point holding a 11-6 lead. Once again, the Thunderbirds rallied and took their first lead at 14-13 after a kill block from Breanna Ahlers and Erin McDurmont.
GFW built the margin to 22-18, but couldn't hold it as a kill from Jordan Thomes gave Sibley East a 24-23 lead and put it just a point from tying the match. But two kills from McDurmont and a tip kill from Lexi Jensen allowed the Thunderbirds to take set two.
The third set turned the opening lead tables, as GFW took an early 8-3 lead and at one point was up 17-14. Five ties later and down 25-24, it was the Wolverines' turn to tip the balance at the end of the match, helped by two unforced Thunderbirds errors and a kill block by Thomes.
Set four again saw a strong opening by Sibley East, rolling to a 10-4 lead, but this time it took two out of bounds hits by the Wolverines that allowed GFW to tie and then take a 19-18 lead. After that, Sibley East never trailed by less than two, with an ace by GFW's Eve Bleick nailing the victory.
For GFW, Beranek had 13 kills, with McDurmont and Katelyn Seehafer each adding eight. Morgan Wenninger had 22 set assists, with Sydney Fromm contributing 14. Bleick had 21 digs, while Thomes had 14 and Jensen had seven blocks.
GFW resumes play at home next Tuesday night against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City at 7 p.m., while Sibley East hosts Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Arlington.