The MHSAA volleyball postseason is underway as three local Division 2 teams advanced to their respective district semifinals last night: Algonac, Marysville, and North Branch.
Marysville v. Marine City
Both Marysville and Algonac played in Algonac for the first round of the District 59 tournament. The Vikings first took on the undefeated MAC-Gold champion, Marine City, and won in four sets: 25-16, 25-12, 20-25, 26-24.
“We started making a lot of errors and that unfortunately let them back into the game,” Marysville head coach Kellie Kryscynski said. “They started picking up their play as well. We implemented a new lineup in the last two days, so that’s something we’re still evaluating.”
Changes in personnel is nothing new for the battle-tested Vikings. Several players were injured to start the season and are now returning, so they’re tasked with navigating their seemingly ever-changing rotation. But if they can count on anything to remain constant, it’s the trust among their teammates.
“We just need to trust each other. And I feel like with the bonds we’ve made over the season and in the summer, we can trust each other,” junior Janae Hudson said. “It’s all about trusting each other and for the most part we have that.”
Their trust was evident last night as the Mariners crept back into the match with a third-set victory. And even in the fourth set, Marine City trailed 21-14 and still managed to push Marysville past 25 points, yet the Vikings remained strong.
“These are the girls we all grew up with. I don’t think the girls that were in third grade imagined we’d be here,” senior Meghan Winston said. “We hold each other accountable but we also trust that if one goes down, we’ll pick each other back up, and if someone’s having a hard time, we try to support each other the best we can.”
Hudson led the Vikings offense with 14 kills and three blocks on the night and junior Avery Wolters added 13 kills. Junior Kalista Negin and senior Kara Miller had 28 and 19 digs, respectively, and Winston had 29 assists.
The Vikings will play St. Clair – who they battled in five sets for a district title last fall – in Wednesday’s district semifinal. The match set set to start at 5 p.m. in Algonac. Buy tickets.
“We haven’t played them…but we watched them against Marine City. That was a good one,” Hudson said. “We’ll see what happens because they're probably our main rivals, but I don’t have any doubt our team will put up a fight. Whether we win or lose, we’ll walk out with our heads held high.”
Algonac v. Armada
Algonac and Armada split their two matches in the conference play, and Monday’s match would not only settle the tie, but also determine the end of their seasons.
Algonac looked strong to start, winning the first set 25-8. Armada began to find momentum, falling in the second set 25-21 and winning the third 25-19. The fourth set was close as neither team led by more than two points until the Muskrats broke away on a 7-1 run to secure the fourth and final set, 25-17.
“That isn’t our best for sure. There are things that are within our control – missed serves, unforced errors – and if we clean that up, we play a lot better than what we showed tonight,” Algonac head coach Grant Harris said. “That third set what was a little rough, but they bounced back so I was happy with that.”
“I think in the third, we just had a few mistakes,” junior setter Camden Thaler said. “I thought we were still playing pretty well.”
Thaler commanded the Muskrats offense to help senior Ella Stephenson and junior Sierra Vosler earn 22 and 20 kills, respectively. They also chipped in with a combined 56 digs.
“Our hitters connected really well with Cam and I’m just excited to get to Wednesday and face Richmond,” Stephenson said. “Hopefully we’ll make it to that final.”
This was the first time the Algonac volleyball team has won postseason match since Stephenson’s freshman year, making the senior even more excited about the victory. The Muskrats beat Richmond in both of the league matches, but as Harris said, it can be hard to beat a team three times.
“We’re pretty confident. We’ve seen them quite a few times in league play and once in a tournament,” Harris said. “We know what to expect and they know what to expect from us. It’s always hard to beat a team three times.”
But he also said he thinks the best is yet to come, starting with middle Savannah Wirtz who had a season-high seven kills, three solo blocks, and four block assists on Monday.
“Savanah Wirtz played probaly her best game of the season,” Harris said. “We saw some kills in that third set that we haven’t seen all year.”
The Muskrats will host Richmond in the district semifinal on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Buy tickets.
North Branch v. Almont
In the District 60 tournament, Almont hosted the defending state runner-up North Branch for the first round. The Broncos sealed the victory in three sets: 25-15, 25-14, 25-10.
Freshman Aubree Deshetsky led the way with 10 kills and junior Clara Gyomory added nine. Three other players added at least five kills, all assisted by junior setter Adrienne Greschaw with 39 assists.
The Broncos are now ranked No. 2 in the state at 46-7 on the season and will play the No. 10 team in the state, Imlay City, on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Almont. The Spartans handed North Branch its first and only set loss in conference play on Oct. 29, making Wednesday's rematch a highly-anticipated one. Buy tickets.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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