September 26, 2023 at 6:05 a.m.

Hodag volleyball takes fifth in Phillips

Rhinelander's Lucy Lindner bumps the ball over the net during a match against Lakeland at the Logger Invite in Phillips Saturday, Sept. 23 (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)
Rhinelander's Lucy Lindner bumps the ball over the net during a match against Lakeland at the Logger Invite in Phillips Saturday, Sept. 23 (Brett LaBore/Lakeland Times)

By JEREMY MAYO
Sports Editor

After notching its first Great Northern Conference victory in nearly six years, the Rhinelander High School volleyball team put another feather in its cap on Saturday as it continues to make incremental gains in the third season under coach Dan Wolter. 

The Hodags won their final three matches Saturday and took fifth place in the Phillips Invite. After losing to Ashland and Lakeland, the Hodags defeated Elcho to end pool play and then beat Chequamegon and Elcho again to take the consolation bracket of the eight-team meet.

Those victories gave Rhinelander (12-13, 1-5 Great Northern) double-digit wins on a season for the first time since 2017. 

“It’s good. It’s been a slow progression here but we’re climbing and getting wins. There’s no such thing as a bad win, right,” Wolter said. “We were able to go out and beat the teams we need to beat and, hopefully, we can use some of that to start getting a little bit better competition and good team.”

The Hodags started the day with a 25-10, 25-13 loss to Phillips before making GNC rival Lakeland sweat a bit. The Hodags pushed the first set against the T-Birds to extra points before falling 29-27, 25-7.

“It was tight the whole game,” Wolter said. “It looked very similar to how we played on Tuesday against Pines. It was a very tight set. We did a really good job of digging balls up and keeping (Lakeland’s) Meg (Pfannerstill) under control again.”

The Hodags defeated Elcho 25-13, 25-17 to take third in its pool. Rhinelander then beat Chequamegon 25-13, 25-21 in the first match of the consolation bracket. Serving stood out in that match as the Hodags aced the Screaming Eagles 12 times — including seven by sophomore Libbey Buchmann.

“Serving was really good later in the day,” Wolter said. “For the most part I think we served pretty decent, didn’t have too many errors. It’s something we’ve been working on at practice, getting our serve percentage back up. We haven’t been serving at such a high clip recently. It was a good day to see that come back up and being able to hit aces on top of it is always good.”

Rhinelander finished the day beating Elcho again 25-17, 25-11. 

Buchmann had a busy all-around day for the Hodags with 12 kills, 21 digs, nine aces, six blocks and four assists. Wolter said Buchmann is turning into a solid six-rotation play for the squad. 

“We shifted her back to that right side and it doesn’t matter where she is, if we can get her the ball the girls are confident in her to get a kill and get us points,” he said. “She plays really good tip coverage and reads the ball well off the swing and then up at the net, does a good job of putting hands up and getting a good block on.”

Lexi Robinson had 13 kills on the day to lead Rhinelander while Lily Treder had nine kills. Lucy Lindner had 14 assists and Ava Krouze had 11. Emma Chiamulera had 28 digs and Kelsi Beran added nine kills and four blocks. 

The Hodags will return to GNC play this evening at Medford. The Hodags were swept by the Raiders in straight sets last Saturday during the GNC tournament in Antigo.

“We’ve seen them once. Obviously, going down there to play is always a tough atmosphere, but we’ve just got to go down and be ready to compete and play as hard as we can,” Wolter said. “I think good things can happen and am confident we can get a win.”  

Jeremy Mayo may be reached at [email protected].


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