Stratford wants undisputed title
Tigers extend win streak to four straight
The Stratford Tigers aren’t letting COVID-19 distract them from destiny.
After defeating Rib Lake on Tuesday, the Tigers are now riding a four game win streak and are closing in on the Marawood Crown.
The Tigers have won two undisputed titles, along with a share of the Marawood - South in 2017 with Newman, but this year things are a bit different, with a combined title on the line.
Standing in Stratford’s way are 10 other teams, but if the last four matches are any indication, the Tigers are in the driver’s seat for a three-peat.
Winning streak starts
The Tigers began their four match win streak by defeating the Assumption Royals on the road in four sets. The Tigers took the first two sets 25-15 and 25-13, but faltered in the third, falling 25-21.
That proved to be a blip on the map as the Tigers righted the ship by blasting past the Royals 25-9 in the fourth. Mikayla Guldan led the way with 13 digs and seven kills. Lauryn Nagel added another seven kills and Tanaya Schillinger rained down five aces.
Stratford’s next match, an Oct. 8 home game against Abbotsford, proved to be another battle. The Falcons and Tigers last match was a five set thriller at the Marawood Crossover, and Thursday’s match saw more fireworks.
“We know Abbotsford has always been a great team, they’ve always run a great defense and they got a great coach working for them,” Guldan said about last year’s Marawood - North champs. “Our main mentality was to treat it like a playoff game since we’re two games away from playoffs.”
The Falcons took the first set 25-22 thanks to Tiger errors on serve and serve receive, but Stratford quickly put the loss behind them and ran away with the second set 25-15.
“Our net play was huge. Honestly we have a great offense, with Lauryn up in the front, Breanna and Megan Wiese. So we’ve got a great offense working for us and that’s something we always look to utilize.”
The third set proved to be a battle, with Abby holding a late lead, but Lauryn Nagel’s net play allowed the home team to take the third set 25-21, and with it the momentum.
“Getting that third set was really big. It was a great win to go off into the fourth set,” Guldan said. “The momentum was definitely working for us and we carried that into the next set.”
The Tigers defeated the Falcons 25-18 in the fourth, riding the arms of Guldan and Nagel, who had 19 and 11 kills. Nagel had a team high six aces and Abby Oertel had 27 assists.
The Tigers made it three straight on Monday as they knocked off the Auburndale Eagles in another tightly contested four set match at home.
The Tigers escaped with the first set 25-23, but then dropped a back and forth second set 26-24. The Tigers continued their tight-rope act, winning the third set 25-23, but Auburndale continued to put a fight in the fourth before the Tigers prevailed 25-19.
Mikayla Guldan notched a team high 12 kills and five aces. Tanaya Schillinger had a big game at net, delivering nine kills, and Lauryn Nagel recorded seven kills and four aces. Abby Oertel had a team high 21 assists.
Stratford rattled off its fourth consecutive victory in decisive fashion, rolling through Rib Lake in three quick sets on Tuesday night.
The Tigers dominated the match, raining down 11 aces and 27 kills on the overwhelmed Redmen.
Stratford got on top early in the first set, and never looked back, taking it 25-7. The Tigers got a bigger fight from Rib Lake in the second, but was still hardly troubled as they took a two sets to none lead with a 25-13 decision.
At that point the Tigers had all the momentum on their side, and quickly burned through a demoralized Rib Lake squad, taking the third set 25-5.
Once again it was the dynamic duo of Mikayla Guldan and Lauryn Nagel who did the damage on Tuesday. Guldan had seven kills and Nagel added six. Hailey Chapel finished with a team high three aces.
Nagel had team high nine assists, followed by Abby Oertel with seven. Autumn Oertel led the way on digs, recording a team high six.
The 2020 season continues to remain a mystery, but the Tigers are hoping for another deep playoff run. Their ranking remains high, and the seedings will be revealed soon.
The Tigers are hoping to add more hardware to the trophy case before the year is over, but they also know that every match could very well be their last, and Stratford is hoping to carry that over into the future.
“Our coach told us to treat each game as if this could be our last game,” Guldan said after the Tigers match with Abbotsford last week. “We’re definitely more driven and focused this year.”