By RICK SOLEM
Every game is a test.
Some tests, of course, greater than others. Some look like cake walks, others look like … well, the opposite of a cake walk. What is a cake walk?
The opposite comes at 7 p.m. today when Viterbo hosts Ashford, which has won five of six and is 13-5 on the season.
Saturday, against the crosstown rival, the V-Hawks may have underestimated UW-La Crosse.
Viterbo, was, afterall, the team that went to the Elite Eight last season and is currently ranked 13th in the NAIA. The V-hawks came into the match winners of four in a row and 18 on the season.
UW-L, on the other hand, had never taken the Coulee Cup – the trophy two teams have played for since 2005 – from Viterbo. And the Eagles came in losing six of their last seven matches.
Yet, it took everything Viterbo had, falling behind 2-1, before winning the match in five sets (25-14,21-25,25-27,25-18,15-8). It also took the V-Hawks five games to win the first Coulee Cup.
Junior Alicia Olson had 24 kills, nine digs and a whole lot of screaming to lead the way. She screams. A lot. Every kill begets a holler the team feeds off.
“She’s emotional,” Viterbo coach Ryan DeLong said with a laugh. “She gets into it.
“And that’s our team. We play with a lot of emotion.”
Emotions were high when the Eagles (5-8) took the second set behind seven of Lauren Probst’s 19 kills and then pulled out the third set to pull within a win of taking the Coulee Cup for the first time.
The V-Hawks (19-5), however, hit reset for the final two sets and left no doubt – hoisting the Coulee Cup after the win.
Olson, the reigning MCC Player of the Year, had six kills in each of the final two sets, including the last, a straight-down shot and an entire team screaming – to just Olson – that followed.
Senior Erica Willadsen had 12 kills and Lynette Benson added 11 for Viterbo. Teammate Jennifer Krentz had 28 digs, while Brianna Brinkman was a set short of 50.
UW-L, which will host Eau Claire (10-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, got 19 digs from Courtney Geisler and 14 more from Probst. Cassie Raduka had 44 assists, while Kayla Ashland finished with 10 kills.