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Robert Williams / Forum News Service, Published October 15 2013

Perham wins HOL volleyball crown

PERHAM, Minn. – Perham won its first Heart O’ Lakes Conference volleyball championship since 2008 with a 3-1 victory over the Hawley on Tuesday 25-17, 25-13, 21-25, 25-23.

Sophomore Ella Von Ruden led the Yellowjackets with 13 kills. Senior Tina Scheidecker added 10.

Perham led 21-18 in the third set, four points from clinching the match via sweep. But the Nuggets rallied to score seven straight points and create some tension in the Perham gymnasium, cutting the Yellowjackets lead to two sets to one.

“I think they feel the pressure,” Perham head coach Eryn Moser said. “This is new to them. Winning is new. Being able to deal with it – that’s the best thing we can ask for right now. This is a huge confidence builder for us, for sure.”

The fourth set was a seesaw affair with neither team able to build a lead of more than four points. Seven lead changes led to a 23-23 tie on a kill by Perham’s Maria Rutten.

Chelsey Honrud served out the match as Perham took the final two points and clinched the conference championship with a 25-23 fourth set win.

The first two sets were close to the midway points, with Perham buckling down and outscoring Hawley by a two-to-one margin down the stretch for comfortable wins by eight and 12 points.

“Kudos to Hawley,” said Moser. “It was a good championship. I’m glad our team came out on top.”

“It was all of our dreams, because the past couple years were just not what we wanted to do,” Perham junior middle hitter Hope Slettebak said. “With Coach Moser and all of our other coaches, with them encouraging us, it was really nice to reach our goals and dreams.”

The HOL title was not a realistic goal for a team that was 9-19 last season and one of the few Perham teams to not make a state tournament appearance. After an impressive early start to the 2013 campaign, those goals had to be upgraded.

“We had talked about focusing on the positive, focusing on winning,” Moser said. “But I don’t think it really occurred to us until after the Marshall tournament, and then it was like, we need to readjust and figure out what our goals are going to be for the end of this year, because I think they started to believe, especially after the Marshall tournament.”

“It’s just one of those things where we have to play to the best of our ability and play smart,” said Slettebak.

Perham improves its record to 24-2 overall and finished the HOL season undefeated at 6-0. The Yellowjackets two losses have come in three-set tournament matches.

“It’s amazing,” Slettebak said. “It’s unrealistic. I’m so proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished.”

P (kills-blocks-aces): Von Ruden 13-x-x, T. Scheidecker 10-x-x (33 digs), Rutten 7-x-x, Erickson 4-x-x, Slettebak 3-x-x, Christenson 0-x-x (35 assists).

H: Statistics unavailable.

Williams writes for the Perham Focus