Panthers ride roller coaster to victory
It's been a roller-coaster ride of a season for the Ellsworth volleyball, but the Panthers have enjoyed the ends of those rides just like they did Tuesday against Somerset.
Ellsworth (6-2, 2-0 Middle Border) picked up a 21-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-16, 15-13 victory over the Spartans in a match that had plenty of ups and downs for the Panthers.
"We've been kind of roller coastery all season," Ellsworth senior Abbey Ristow said.
Ristow finished with a team-high 16 kills and helped jump start the Panthers in the fifth set immediately with a kill to make it 1-0 that energized the rest of the team.
Ellsworth grabbed a three-point lead at one point in the fifth set, only to see it evaporate quickly. Somerset came back with a 6-0 run and took a 13-9 lead before the Panthers knew what to do.
Ellsworth junior Morgan Christopherson knew what to do when she got to the service line with the Panthers hanging perilously close to defeat. Christopherson served up an ace serve in her first serve, added another and served the rest of the set out to give Ellsworth its first victory over the Spartans in at least four years.
"We haven't beaten them for a while so it feels good," Panthers senior Jessy Tingelhoff said.
Tingelhoff recorded 12 kills and 25 assists for the match and helped keep Ellsworth in the match early with her tip play when its hitters misfired.
The Panthers committed several errors in the sets they lost and most of the errors came unforced.
"It was our mistakes," Ellsworth head coach Tanya Powers said. "We were hitting out or we'd shank a pass."
But when the Panthers needed to get it together they found a way whether it was better digging from senior Kristina Saunders, who finished with a team-high 12 digs and Christopherson, who tallied 10 digs, or hitting more aggressively like Ellsworth did in the fifth set.
Late in the fifth set Somerset seemed more concerned with keeping the ball off the floor instead of trying to find a kill. The Panthers didn't flinch and continued to swing away.
"They made a statement," Powers said. "They fought."
Ellsworth faces Baldwin-Woodville Thursday on the road.