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Tigers rally past Speedgirls


Jason Juno/Daily Globe

Mercer’s Lexi Engler, center, sends a shot past Bessemer’s Jenika Laukka, left, and Allyson Hansen during Thursday night’s Indianhead Conference game at Mercer. Mercer won 3-1.

MERCER, Wis. —Bessemer took the first game, but Mercer came back and showed why it will be very tough to beat in the Indianhead Conference East Division this season.

The Tigers won 3-1, 19-25, 25-10, 25-12, 25-10.

After losing the first game, Mercer didn’t give up another 25 total points until it was ahead 9-3 in the fourth set.

The Speedgirls battled in the third set, leading early and trailing 9-8 at one point. But Mercer went on a big run, giving up just four more points in the win.

“Our girls came out strong in game one but struggled in the last three games,” Bessemer coach Shelly Mettler said. “It had been a tough week of games with four games in the last seven days, but we are continuing to improve and work hard. Mercer is a tough team, very solid all around. Our girls never gave up and continued to work hard.”

It was nerves in the first set for Mercer, coach Robyn Schoeneman said.

“Our first real home game this season,” she said. “These girls want to succeed; they work hard. When they put so much pressure on themselves, things kind of fall apart. We play best when we’re relaxed and we’re executing the skills. I think the rest of the games showed that.”

It was a solid comeback performance against the Speedgirls.

“Bessemer, I figured to be one of the better teams in our division, so we’re glad with the outcome tonight,” Schoeneman said. “Bessemer is so scrappy. They’re a very solid defensive team. They kept bringing the ball back to us. I think we were caught back on our heels because we’re usually the team that does that to other teams. I always say I hate playing teams that are just like us because they beat us at our own game and we’re not used to that. That first game really tested us. I was happy to see how they rebounded and came back with the character and gumption and adjust.”

Nikki Kempf led Mercer with 21 kills and Lexi Engler had 13. Kassie Wiedower had 20 assists. Sydney Thompson had six kills and three aces and Camille Kich had three kills. Sarah Kirchoff totaled five aces. Caitlyn Hiller had two aces and 23 assists.

Mercer starts two seniors, Kempf and Wiedower, a junior Engler, and three freshmen, Caitlyn Hiller, Sydney Thompson and Camille Kich. Kempf and Engler are the Tigers’ big hitters and are captains along with Wiedower. Sarah Kirchoff is a sophomore libero.

“Sydney and Camille have been able to be a little bit of an outlet so their blockers aren’t keying on our big hitters,” Schoeneman said.

Mercer hosts Chequamegon Monday and goes to rival Hurley Thursday.

Bessemer hosts Watersmeet Tuesday.


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