PALMER — The Colony Knights volleyball team spiked their crosstown rival Palmer Moose in an early season Northern Lights Conference matchup at Colony High School in four games, 3-1 (25-11, 25-11, 23-25, 25-18).
The Knights thrived when Erica Pomrenke was at the service line, accounting for 27 of the Knights points as she was serving and delivering five aces. On offense, Colony head coach Steve Reynolds praised the work of senior Sam Bryant.
“She has really improved her game from last year. Junior year to senior year she’s really stepped her game up, playing great for us, hits the ball just a ton,” said Reynolds.
The Knights took a commanding lead early in the first game behind the work of Pomrenke. Pomrenke rattled off nine points in a streak, even landing aces in three of her last four serves after a Palmer timeout. Colony Libero Madison Wakaliuk led the Knights on a late game run with her serves and outstanding diving defensive plays to lead the Knights to a decisive 25-11 win in the first game. Colony was able to continue their dominant play into the second game, this time with the help of Hannah Duguid. Reynolds said that even early in the season, Duguid has become effective playing her new position at setter.
“I feel like she’s really kind of grown into her position a little bit more,” said Reynolds.
Duguid racked up a pair of kills during a Hailee Yundt five-serve streak to start the second game for the nights. Duguid then put the second game out of reach while she was at the service line, finishing the game out for the last six points, aided by another burst of kills from Sam Bryant to give the Knights an identical 25-11 win in game two.
Palmer started out the third game determined not to be swept. The Moose gained momentum early in the third game behind a pair of plays from Deana McNutt, but the lead would be short lived. Neither team was able to establish any insurmountable lead, and the Moose and Knights tied at 5, 8, and 10. The Moose came back from down four points to tie the game again at 19 and eventually established a lead the Knight’s couldn’t erase behind three late-game kills from Kristen Beames, including the game-winning point to give the Moose the tough fought 25-23 game three win and keep the Palmer hopes of winning alive.
While the early-season matchup is only the second game for the Knights, Colony has already played in one tournament. Palmer head coach Jayme DeHart noticed early communication struggles with her young team against Colony.
“We still don’t have that chemistry,” said DeHart. “We started to gain the discipline as the match went on but that’s something we’ve got to work on and to continue to get better at. We have some skill but we’ve got to learn how to play together.”
While Colony has a more rigorous tournament schedule planned for the early season, both teams play with each other during the club volleyball season and are more than familiar with their crosstown opponents.
“There’s a lot of familiarity, I think often that brings out good competition too and I think the Palmer and Colony rivalry is super competitive but it’s a totally good friendly competition,” said Reynolds.
The fourth game began much like the third, with both teams passing the lead back and forth, before Palmer sophomore Brynly Crossley got off the bench. Crossley rattled off six serves, adding an ace and a kill along the way to give the Moose the 10-5 lead in the fourth game, trying to establish momentum enough to force a fifth and final game.
“She’s a [junior varsity] player that was called upon to do some serving and play some back row and she just did a great job,” said DeHart.
Erica Pomrenke tallied another ace at the end of a six-serve streak that started with the Knights trailing by three, and ended with the Knights ahead. As the match wore on, Sam Bryant warmed up. Bryant helped seal the fourth and final game with four kills down the stretch once the Knights took the lead at 16, ending the game with an ace from Duguid. Despite the loss, DeHart was especially pleased with the play of her libero, Maegan Grogan.
“She doesn’t get a lot of recognition for it. She gets to make some really big, fun plays but most of the time it’s just one normal good play after another and she’s great,” said DeHart.