The Baraboo girls volleyball team was fighting itself on Thursday night.
The Thunderbirds couldn’t string enough solid play together at home and eventually suffered a 25-22, 25-21, 25-10 Badger North Conference loss to DeForest.
“We didn’t play the way I know we’re capable of,” Baraboo head coach Morgan Liebetrau said. “We didn’t have it together tonight. I definitely thought there were spurts of times we were playing really well, but there were too many spurts that we weren’t playing our game. That’s what happens when you don’t play well. I just told the girls in the locker room, ‘There’s no secret to it. When you don’t show up to play, you don’t win games.’”
The T-Birds (11-12, 3-2 Badger North) did have periods of solid play in each of the first two sets. However, they always seemed to be attempting to come back late.
“It’s frustrating just knowing our potential and where we could have played,” Liebetrau said. “Even those close sets, I don’t think we played our best. Just knowing it was close those first two sets and we didn’t play our best, that’s frustrating as a coach. ... We’re definitely capable; it’s just whether we show up to play.”
Set one started with the teams trading points until the Norskies went on a 5-0 run and opened up a 16-10 lead after an ace by Rachel Sime. The T-Birds eventually found themselves in a 20-13 deficit before pulling within 23-21 after a kill by Lia Kieck and an ace by Claire McNevin.
But Baraboo couldn’t climb all the way back, as DeForest’s Sophee Mink came up with a kill to give the Norskies a 25-22 set-one win.
The Norskies (15-7, 4-2) kept it rolling coming out of the break, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and a 10-4 lead before the T-Birds found themselves. Baraboo got off the mat and a Kieck kill brought the T-Birds within 13-12. Then Katie Kargel got on a roll, serving three aces to give Baraboo a 15-13 lead.
DeForest tied the score at 16, but Baraboo didn’t trail until a long point ended with a DeForest tip that gave the Norskies a 20-19 advantage. DeForest eventually scored five straight points to open up a 23-19 advantage on the way to a 25-21 win.
“I feel like all year we’re on this roller coaster that’s up and down, and when we’re riding it high we’re unstoppable,” Liebetrau said. “And then we get in these lows where we can’t get out of them quick enough. We eventually figure it out but it’s a second too late, and by then we’re playing catch-up.”
DeForest really had it going midway through the third set. Baraboo won a long point to take a 6-5 lead, but DeForest took over from there, closing the match on a 20-4 run to take a 25-10 win to sweep the T-Birds.
Kieck paced Baraboo with eight kills, while McNevin collected 18 assists, Kargel had four aces, Megan Horstman had one block and Grace Stuckey finished with 11 digs.
Mink led DeForest with nine kills and five blocks, while Sime tallied a team-high 13 digs. The Norskies also got three aces apiece from Sydney Hoffman, Mimi Murphy and Hannah Miller.
“Our serve-receive wasn’t on top of our game tonight, but I’ll give them credit, DeForest had some really tough servers,” Liebetrau said. “I don’t think we’ve seen that tough of servers this year, so I think our serve-receive was a little bit surprised or caught off guard by that. Obviously if your serve-receive isn’t great, you can’t get an offense running.”
Baraboo will visit Portage on Tuesday for a conference match, then wrap up Badger North play by hosting conference unbeaten Waunakee on Thursday. The Badger North Conference tournament will be held in Portage on Saturday, Oct. 7.