'Jacks sweep Esko


September 29, 2023

Dave Harwig

Cloquet's Ava Maslowski makes a kill past Esko's Chiara Houser during Tuesday's volleyball match, a 3-0 sweep by Cloquet.

Two of the top teams in northeastern Minnesota did battle at Cloquet Middle School Tuesday, when Cloquet defeated Esko 3-0.

"It's always fun to play Esko," said Cloquet coach Heidi Anderson. "They have a talented team and they make you work for everything."

The Lumberjacks came in fresh off winning the Duluth East tournament championship over the weekend. The talented team showed just how tough they are by dominating at the net and controlling play as they moved their record to 16-1 on the season.

It wasn't easy.

In Game One, Esko led 11-8, but the Lumberjacks went on a massive 17-3 run to close out the set for a 25-14 win.

The second set was tight early as Esko slipped out to an early lead, but again the 'Jacks were able to rally and gain a 13-8 lead. Esko showed its resilience by rallying to tie the game at 13.

Cloquet called a time out after Esko tied the game and then came out and slowly pulled away to a 25-21 win.

"We scrap pretty well and that's what causes those types of runs," Anderson said. "If you can string two or three of those little runs together each game, you should win and that's what happened tonight."

Entering the game the Lumberjacks had won 38 of 41 sets played on the season. With the 3-0 win, they now have won a remarkable 41 of 44 sets in their 16 wins and one loss. Esko was nearly as impressive as they entered the game with a record of 12-3 and a win streak of eight matches in a row.

"Cloquet's just a very good team," said Esko coach Pete Stasiuk. "They picked on our weaknesses and we just didn't pass well. We didn't get the ball back to the middle and that hurt us."

Game Three action saw the Lumberjacks get off to a good start with a 13-7 lead, but Esko eventually pulled within three, at 16-13.

"We did a good job of blocking at the net throughout the night," said Stasiuk. "Cloquet adjusted and started tipping the ball and then we adjusted and started picking up the tips, but Cloquet is tough and they just took advantage of things."

Unfortunately for Esko, the 'Jacks got on another mid-game roll and outscored Esko 12-5 for the rest of the game to win 25-18.

The Lumberjacks got big games from a number of players, but Ava Carlson was nearly unstoppable with 15 kills and 11 digs. Last week, Carlson recorded a nearly unheard of 1,000th kill in her career.

"She is just such a smart player," Anderson said.

Dave Harwig

Esko's Sydney Kazel sets a ball Tuesday in Cloquet.

At the net, the 'Jacks also got seven kills from Ava Maslowski, six from Blythe Proulx and five each from Lexi Niemi and Carly Johnson. Johnson also had two aces, 17 digs and 17 set assists. Quinn Danielson finished with four ace serves and 19 digs, Niemi added two aces and 16 six digs and Ella Maslowski recorded 16 digs and 21 set assists.

For Esko, Kyra and Maya Johnson led the team in kills with eight and six kills, respectively. Maya Johnson also had eight set assists. Sydney Kazel added 15 set assists, while Kallie Sinnott and Chiara Houser both had three blocks.

The loss dropped Esko's record to 12-4. Next up for Esko was a match against Hibbing Thursday followed by a game against the Raptors at Carlton at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3. The Lumberjacks were set to host Lake Superior Conference foe Duluth Denfeld Thursday.


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