Mercer Public School had some early jitters to open its Indianhead Conference volleyball schedule on Thursday at Mellen.
The Lady Tigers dropped their first set of the match, 25-22, but bounced back to cruise to a victory, 25-16, 25-18, 25-11 in the next three sets.
Aubrey Schoeneman had 28 kills offensively, while Bailey Thompson had 23 digs, nine kills and six aces. Ella Torkelson had 43 assists, while Jessica Klopatek and Ava Barton had 14 digs apiece. Molly Hohner added 13 digs.
"We came out very nervous and tentative and Mellen came out fired up," Mercer head coach Robyn Schoeneman said. "Perhaps it is our youth showing but I am proud of the way the girls fought back and played hard. Every point was a battle. Bailey was unbelievable on defense. Nothing was getting past her and her play carried us through the match. Aubrey was swinging well and came on very strong late in the game. Ella ran the show with her setting and directed traffic wonderfully. Smart play by Ava, Molly, Jess and Zoe Botes was instrumental at key times."
Lady Tigers take third at invite
Mercer continued its week traveling to Grantsburg on Saturday for an eight-team tournament.
The Lady Tigers began the day by dropping a match to eventual champion, St. Croix Central, 25-13, 25-11, before bouncing back to sweep the rest of the games to finish in third place.
Mercer beat Turtle Lake, 25-17, 22-25, 15-12 and Spring Valley, 25-21, 25-22, before topping New Richmond for third place, 25-13, 23-25, 15-11.
"We went into the weekend knowing we would be the little fish in a big pond and decided it would be a day of little victories," Schoeneman said. "We had goals like scoring in double digits, winning a set, and winning one match. To come away with three wins and a third place finish is a very big accomplishment for this group of girls. They worked hard for every point. Every girl contributed greatly and left everything they had on the court."
Thompson finished the tournament with 32 kills, 21 aces and 58 digs. Torkelson had 72 assists and 24 aces, while Aubrey Schoeneman had 43 kills, 13 digs and nine aces. Klopatek had 22 digs, 13 kills and five aces, while Ava Barton had 37 digs, five kills and five aces. Molly Hohner chipped in 26 digs.
Mercer (12-2) traveled to Bayfield for an Indianhead Conference match and hosts Solon Springs on Friday for its first home match of the season.
The Lady Tigers have won five conference matches in a row dating back to last season.
Nick Sabato may be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter @SabatoNick.