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Ellsworth faces Durand for third time this season in regionals

How hard is it to beat a team three times in one season? The Ellsworth High School volleyball team will soon find out Tuesday evening as they host Durand at 7 p.m. at Ellsworth High School in a WIAA Division 2 regional tournament first round match.

Ellsworth beat Durand in two close games at the Middle Border Conference quadrangular in early September and last week came-from-behind down 2-0 to beat their Highway 10 rivals 3-2 in Durand. Ellsworth has been off since then while Durand lost 3-1 to Big Rivers champ Eau Claire North.

If EHS, a No. 3 seed wins they'll more than likely face No. 2 seed Somerset Friday in Somerset. The Spartans, 14-7 overall, beat Ellsworth 3-1 when two teams squared off back on Sept. 21. Ellsworth is 16-5 overall. The No. 1 seed in the regional is Rice Lake.

Other regional first round matches involving Pierce County teams include Prescott, a No. 5 seed in its Division 3 regional tournament at No. 4 seed Clear Lake and No. 6 seed Spring Valley at No. 3 seeded and Lakeland Conference squad Unity in Balsam Lake.

The Eagles have roughly the same record as Spring Valley, which is 19-24 overall, but it is a testament to how tough the Lakeland is perceived that both Unity and Clear Lake had higher seeds. Both teams finished 4-6 in the Lakeland West Conference. After all, the league champ is the state's top-ranked team, Grantsburg. They're also the No. 1 seed in the regional and one of three top 10 teams in a loaded sectional which also includes No. 4 ranked Eau Claire Regis, No. 7 ranked Washburn and conference champs like Colfax. Prescott would presumably take on Grantsburg if they win and Spring Valley would face No. 2 seed Webster, who was a runner-up to Grantsburg in the Lakeland West.

The Division 4 sectional both Plum City and Elmwood find themselves in is also top-heavy with ranked teams, including No. 1 ranked Highland, No. 5 Southwestern, No. 7 Royall, and No. 8 Hillsboro. None of these teams are in the regional PC and Elmwood are in but two conference champions are. No.1 seed Alma and No. 2 seed Cochrane-Fountain City both shared the Dairyland Conference title with 8-1 records. Elmwood is at C-FC while Plum City, the No. 3 seed, hosts Independence, who they faced last year in the first round of the regionals.

PC has faced all of these teams, beating both Elmwood and Independence, while losing 3-2 to Alma and 2-1 to Cochrane-Fountain City at a quad meet in Durand. Alma is 16-5 overall, while C-FC has won over 30 games this season including wins over Mondovi, Royall and Durand. Plum City is 19-21 but 7-2 in the Dunn-St. Croix.