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Back-to-back: Vikings are district champs

A “loosey-goosey” style of play, according to junior Janae Hudson, was exactly what the Marysville volleyball team needed to defend its district title Thursday night against Richmond. The Vikings won in three straight sets, 25-13, 25-15, 25-20.

“On the bus ride we sang and did goofy stuff to kind of distract ourselves so we didn’t overthink or stress out,” Hudson said. “We just had a different energy out there on the court tonight. It wasn’t the same throughout the season. It helped us a lot.”

The Vikings celebrate after a point against Richmond in the district final Thursday night.

The road to back-to-back district championships wasn’t exactly an easy one. From navigating the elite MAC-White and battling injuries to playing in a close, five-set district semifinal against St. Clair, head coach Kellie Kryscynski said she was glad to see everything come together at just the right time.

“That’s the Marysville team I know and love,” she said. “It was fun to see them play at that level.

“We needed that tremendously. We struggled last night and Monday night. Marine City and St. Clair are always tough to beat. For us to pull off the win last night and come back and win tonight and bring a different level, it’s huge for us going into regionals. I think it’s going to give us the confidence we need.”

Marysville used 8-0 runs midway through both the first and second sets to set the tone for the championship so that even when Richmond led 11-9 in the third, the Vikings didn’t appear to be trailing.

Hudson led the Vikings offense with 11 kills while junior Avery Wolters added 10. Together the duo combined for 82 kills throughout the district tournament, hammering 42 each.

“If you’ve seen our stats, they’ve led us all week. They are just such a ginormous part, and when they play well, our team plays well,” Kryscynski said. “It’s been fun to see their growth this season and just how well they're doing now.”

“We continue to hype each other up and we just give each other the energy we need to crush the ball,” Wolters said of their chemistry at the net.

Senior Allysse Berger and junior Rayna Powers added nine and five kills on the night as well, respectively, helped by senior Meghan Winston with 38 assists. The Vikings also combined for seven aces (three from Wolters and two from each senior Grace Kryscynski and junior Kalista Negin).

And perhaps more important than Kara Miller’s 15 digs (63 throughout the tournament) was the senior libero’s ability to remain calm under pressure, which gave her teammates the support they needed to maintain their excited and confident style of play.

“In my mind I’m not [calm], but I’m trying to be because when things get overwhelming it’s really hard to play well,” Miller said. “Having a calm presence on the court is important for paying well and consistent so I just try to do that to help everyone out so we’re not so frantic.”

The Blue Devils celebrate after a point against Marysville in the district final Thursday night.

As for the Blue Devils, they’ll conclude their season at 23-23-2. They had a lot of momentum coming into the district tournament after winning eight of their previous nine matches. They even upended Algonac on its home court in the district semifinal – a team they had lost to twice during conference play.

“My team played outstanding last week,” Richmond head coach Charlene West said, “but I think we struggled today. I’ll say the better team won, they played a lot better.”

West said she thinks this momentum will bode well for the years to come, however, as she’s only graduating two seniors from this year’s roster, Lauren Gray and Piper Clark.

“It’s fantastic, however, I have two very strong seniors that I’m losing. Piper has been on this varsity team for four years, so that’ll be a big loss for us for sure,” West said. “But I have a lot of young people coming…We should have a good few years coming up. I’m excited about that.”

The Vikings will advance to the Division 2, Region 15 Semifinal against North Branch on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The match is set to start at 7 p.m. Buy tickets.

The Broncos will enter the match favored as the second-ranked team in the state, but many of the girls on this Marysville team know how to win in the most unlikely circumstances.

Several of them were on the 2021 state runner-up softball team as well as last year’s regional championship basketball team. While this may be a different stage, their experience and chemistry shouldn't be taken lightly.

“I think going to regionals and winning in basketball really prepared us for the stress and pressure we’re going to face in the upcoming regional,” Wolters said. “Our chemistry is really going to help because we’re all so close and we’ll be really prepared.”


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

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