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7AA VOLLEYBALL: Proctor denies Esko; prospects good for next year

 

November 8, 2019



Going into last Wednesday’s Section 7AA semifinal match, the Eskomos knew they would have to find an answer to Proctor’s Sam Pogatchnik and Payton Rodberg.

That proved to be a tough task. The strong-hitting duo combined for 43 kills as the Rails won 29-27, 30-32, 25-18 and 25-18. In taking the win, Proctor earned met North Branch, the defending state Class AA champions, in the Section 7 title game and lost.

Perhaps one of the biggest keys to the semifinal match was the fact that the Rails took a tightly contested and extended first game, then pushed Esko to an even longer second game which the Eskomos eventually won.

“The first two sets were too close for comfort,” said Esko coach Desi DeLeon. “We needed to win the first game. We were up in that game and needed to finish, but didn’t. That cost us. We did bounce back and win the second after a long game which showed sisu!”

Unfortunately for the Eskomos, the second set win would be the highlight of the match as the Rails rode the 24 kills of Pogatchnik and the 19 kills of Rodberg to seven-point wins in the third and fourth games.

“They ran a very quick offense and we didn’t get our blocks there in time,” DeLeon said. “We needed to be quicker.”

Esko did have some stellar performances of their own. Taiya Gregg provided a strong game at the net with 15 kills and four blocks, while Zoie Johnson chipped in with 12 kills and 10 digs. Gabby Martinson recorded eight kills and five blocks and Dea DeLeon added 10 digs.

“I thought offensively we played pretty well,” coach DeLeon stated. “I also thought our serve receive was decent.”

Esko has been more than decent all year. Despite the loss, the Eskomos finished with an impressive 22-7 record.

“Overall we had a very good season,” coach DeLeon said. “We had lots of returners and experience back this year. We did move players around to different positions, but I thought we adjusted to that quickly.”

As the Eskomos look ahead to next season, they will lose just one player to graduation and return five starters and a deep bench. The lone senior on the squad is DeLeon’s daughter, Dea.

“It is going to be very different without her coming to practice every day,” DeLeon said. “She’s always been there with me and has been on varsity four years. Dea has been a huge part of our volleyball program and we will miss her competitive spirit.”

Now that this season is over, coach DeLeon is already looking ahead to next year.

“The future looks good,” she said.

 
 
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