Bowler falls flat against Laona-Wabeno

Panthers searching for answers after being swept
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Leader photo by Morgan Rode Bowler’s Alyssa Strassburg reaches for the ball during the team’s clash with Laona-Wabeno on Tuesday in Bowler.

A Tuesday night volleyball clash between Bowler and Laona-Wabeno had the makings of an intriguing nonconference match.

Instead, a more aggressive Laona-Wabeno squad cruised to a 25-6, 25-10, 25-16 victory that left Bowler scratching its head.

“We are a lot more aggressive team than we showed tonight,” Bowler coach Brad Brei said. “We were standing there flat-footed striking the ball over most times.”

The visitors took control of the first set early on and never looked back. The Rebels quickly grabbed an eight-point advantage and soon increased the lead to double digits.

Bowler had a difficult time getting its offense set up following Laona-Wabeno serves. When the Panthers were able to field the serves and send the ball back over the net, the Rebels’ aggressive approach often led to spikes that left the hosts scrambling.

Laona-Wabeno racked up several aces in the opening set while Sydney Rabe and Ellie Krawze recorded most of the team’s kills. Rabe put an exclamation point on the lopsided first set with a thunderous kill.

Throughout the first set, Bowler’s players could be seen looking to each other for answers while coach Brei was left shaking his head.

“We just really weren’t ourselves tonight. We weren’t talking or picking each other up, we were letting each other get down on themselves when those things shouldn’t happen at all,” Bowler senior Jada Waters said. “I get that we just came back from a three-day weekend, but we could have done better out there tonight and that’s all there is to it.”

The second set started much like the opening set, with Laona-Wabeno jumping out to another comfortable lead. Rabe’s strong serving helped the Rebels take a 11-2 lead. The Panthers were never able to trim the deficit below eight.

After failing to record a kill in the first set, Bowler tallied three kills in the second set. Senior Jodi Wolf had two kills while junior Brooke Theix had the other. Junior Kyla Kroening had five digs.

“I think we need to work better as a team, motivate each other and work as one instead of getting down on ourselves. That was our big problem tonight,” Theix said.

Bowler was able to hang with Laona-Wabeno for much longer in the final set thanks to some solid serving by Wolf and Waters.

The Rebels took an 8-1 lead before the Panthers battled back to within three points at 13-10. In the end though, Laona-Wabeno’s more aggressive approach was too much to overcome.

Wolf tallied three kills and was the only Bowler player to post more than one kill in the contest. Waters tallied a team-high four assists while junior Ireland DeRoos and Kroening each had five digs.

After the disappointing loss, the team is ready to move on and bring a better effort in its next scheduled match. The Panthers will travel to Shiocton to compete in a quad on Thursday.

“We just have to shake this off and start new,” Waters said. “We can’t focus on the mistakes, we have to look forward and keep each other up.”

“Coach makes it a big deal to forget about our losses and work harder in practice and to look forward to games instead of looking back to losses,” Theix said. “As leaders for some of the younger girls, we (upperclassmen) need to set positive examples so the younger players can follow suit.”