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VOLLEYBALL: Bemidji struggles in season-opening loss to Perham

Bemidji senior Claire Laasko tips the ball over the net against a Perham opponent Tuesday evening. Perham swept the match 3-0. It was the season opener for both teams. MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER

BEMIDJI -- Cohesive teamwork and communication are essential if a volleyball team is going to be successful and those elements take time to develop.

Tuesday night at the Bemidji High School gym the new-look Lumberjacks opened their season and their lack of returning experience showed. The Jacks committed 27 errors during three games, many the result of a lack of communication, and those mistakes were more than they could counter.

Perham took advantage of Bemidji's miscues to sweep the home team 25-21, 25-23, 26-24.

"We're a work in progress," said Jacks assistant coach Netti Homer. "But, fortunately, these guys like to work hard."

Last year's state-tournament team enjoyed a dominating front court that would slam anything that came within range. This year, however, the top four net players are gone and overcoming that lost experience is something the Jacks will have to deal with.

"There were times when we got the pass up and we were effective," said Lumberjacks head coach Teresa Colligan. "But we didn't utilize our middle hitters as much as we should have."

In the first game Bemidji mistakes gave the Yellowjackets 16 points and the visitors turned those gifts into a 25-21 victory. Perham needed only one winning push to forge a 5-0 cushion as the other points were the result of two missed BHS spikes, Bemidji moving early before a serve and the Lumberjacks touching the net.

The home team closed its gap to 5-4 as Brylee Colligan served three points, including an ace, and after an Emily Faldorf spike the score was knotted at 10-10.

Perham regained the lead with a spike by Maria Rutten and maintained a narrow cushion the rest of the way.

The second game followed a similar script as 13 Bemidji mistakes resulted in Perham points. The Lumberjacks held a 22-21 lead late in the set but a serve into the net and a blown set helped Perham rally for the 25-23 win.

Bemidji kept its mistakes to single figures in the final game but three of them down the stretch helped the Yellowjackets rally from a 23-18 deficit and complete the sweep.

"This is a determined group and I'm sure they will come around but I was expecting more in this match," Colligan said of Tuesday's performance. "I have seen better than this in our scrimmages and during practices. But our play could have been influenced by some nerves."

Hanna Olson paced the defense as the senior had 22 digs. Myria Colley contributed 16 digs and Alexa Greendahl 12.

Colley also ripped 11 kills while Maura Chadwich had six and Claire Laakso five.

Greendahl dished 22 set assists and Olson zipped a pair of aces.

Bemidji will make its road debut Thursday when it travels to Detroit Lakes.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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