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5 reasons to watch tonight's regional semifinal between Marysville and North Branch

The Marysville and North Branch volleyball teams each won their respective district tournaments last Thursday in a 3-0 sweep of the final, and tonight, they’ll square off in the Division 2, Region 15 Semifinal. The match is set for 7 p.m. in Imlay City.

Marysville stands 32-11 on the season while North Branch is 48-7. Both teams have played in some highly competitive tournaments like the Mercy Power Series, and even within their leagues they’ve played quality, state-ranked opponents. But they have yet to play each other.

Here are five reasons this is a must-watch match:

North Branch senior Natasha Bickel goes for a block in the district semifinal against Imlay City.

No. 1 – These are two of the winningest programs in MHSAA volleyball history. Marysville holds the state record for consecutive wins at 192 from 1996 to 2000, and North Branch ranks No. 7 of all time with the number of wins in a single season at 76 in 2009. Marysville has appeared in 10 State Finals and North Branch has competed in eight. The Broncos have the advantage with the most recent success, however, having finished as state runner-up last fall.

No. 2 – Both teams bring well-balanced attacks. They each played three matches in the district tournament and posted more than 100 kills throughout. North Branch’s top five hitters each had more than 20 kills, led by junior Clara Gyomory with 29 and senior Natasha Bickel with 27. As for the Vikings, juniors Janae Hudson and Avery Wolters led the way each with 42 kills, and fellow junior Rayna Powers chipped in with 17 in total.

Marysville senior Meghan Winston sets the ball in an earlier-season match.

No. 3 – Strong attacks can only happen with dependable setters, and these front-row menaces certainly have that. North Branch returned its all-state setter, junior Adrienne Greschaw, to its lineup this fall, and she had 110 assists last week. Marysville also boasts an all-state setter in junior Avery Woodard, however, she was injured at the beginning of the season and is just starting to return to play. She had 15 assists and four aces last Monday, while senior Meghan Winston stepped up with 117 assists in the district tournament.

No. 4 – And a good offense is a credit to a solid defense, which is another thing both of these teams have. Junior Hailey Green returns to the North Branch roster as a First-Team All-State libero, and the Vikings bring a dynamic duo of senior libero Kara Miller and junior defensive specialist Kalista Negin who combined for 122 digs in district play.

No. 5 – If you’ve ever watched either of these two schools play any sport, you know their student sections travel well. In last year’s regional volleyball championship, nearly 100 Broncos filled the stands and stormed the court when their team won, and the same was true for Marysville’s girls basketball team

last year. North Branch may have the shorter ride on the fan bus, but the Vikings aren’t too much farther away, and with a late game, practices and tryouts are less likely to be a conflict, making for a highly-anticipated (and likely very loud) night.

All in all, it’ll be a great night of volleyball. To buy your ticket, click here. To watch the live stream on the NFHS Network, click here.


For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli

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