Northwestern volleyball ended its regular season Thursday, Oct. 15, with a 3-1 home loss to the Bloomer Blackhawks and a 3-6 record.
Northwestern was competitive against the historically strong Bloomer program, coming inches away from winning all four sets.
Captains Brynn Erickson and Allison Luoma both led the team with dynamic performances in the opening two sets, which ended 25-22 and 25-18 in Bloomer’s favor. The visitors dominated the opening of both sets, but gave up leads on both occasions, relying on late set comebacks to cut off the resurgent Tigers.
Despite the score showing it their worst set, the Tigers showed dedication in set two, particularly during a long point they won down 18-16.
Northwestern got rewarded for its efforts in the third set, as the Tigers won 26-24 after letting a 23-19 lead slip to prove they belonged on the court with the Blackhawks.
Northwestern started the fourth set well, picking up the first three points, but it seemed their victorious third set helped the Blackhawks find their talons. Bloomer proceeded to score 10 unanswered points. The hosts chipped away at the lead but were defeated 25-19.
Statistical Leaders for Northwestern included Brynn Erickson (14K, 23D), Kayla Paulsen (10K, 18D), Allison Luoma (6K, 19D), Brynn Hessel (6K, 18D) and Brinley Tonn (34SA)
Tigers coach Charlie Hessel called it “a battle,” with lots of hard hits, great digs, long rallies and everything else fans like to see in a volleyball match.
“Brynn Erickson was a digging machine and had a nice night attacking,” Hessel said. “Kayla Paulsen had some big kills at key moments as well. As a team, we had 87 digs and we blocked a lot of balls at the net. Bloomer is a great team and they just controlled the ball a little better out of serve receive, and that was the difference in the match.”
It was Senior Night, with the Tigers honoring Luoma, Marie Livingston and Claire Brinker.
“I am proud of the time and effort they have put in, and even though we lost, it was some of the best volleyball we have played all season,” Hessel said. “I am hopeful that we can continue to improve as we enter the postseason.”
Third-seeded Northwestern (3-6) opens WIAA regional play at second-seeded Cumberland on Thursday, Oct. 22.
The News Tribune contributed to this report.