Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Super stressful and super fun – that’s how Croswell-Lexington volleyball coach Ryan Wilson described any match between the Pioneers and the Imlay City Spartans.
“These are great matches. We’ve gone to five twice now…and I bet if we played them again, it’d be more of the same: super stressful and super fun,” Wilson said. “I enjoy playing really good teams, and that’s a really good team.”
The Spartans hosted Cros-Lex Tuesday night for the teams’ second meeting of the season. In their first match on Sept. 13, they battled into five, and last night told a very similar story.
Ready to honor its seniors on their senior night and correct an earlier-season loss, Imlay City came out with great intensity, taking the first two matches 25-13, 25-13.
“Having all the seniors on the court with me is just great. I love our family. We have a family bond and we’re all one. It means so much. This might be my last time playing on my home court,” senior middle Hope Schriber said. “We weren’t supposed to lose [to Cros-Lex the first time], everyone thought we were going to win, so it was a big motivation to come out and beat them today.”
But Cros-Lex came together in the third to win 25-14 and then managed to stave off the Spartans’ return from a 20-13 deficit to win 25-23 in the fourth.
“It’s not really so much anything I said. It was more just that Imlay City came out ready to go, and we weren’t ready. But these girls have a lot of pride and a lot of fight,” Wilson said, “so it was just their willingness to say, ‘We’re going to make this happen. We’re going to do everything we can to battle back and push a really good team as far as we can.’”
Which is exactly what they did, however, in the fifth set there was no question as the Spartans won 15-4.
“To see them come back against Cros-Lex after losing that first time and to finish in a five-game match and really take the lead there at the end and finish strong is so encouraging,” assistant coach Larissa Van Dyk said. “[Our seniors have] put the time in and grown so much for a crew whose skill level was nowhere near where it was a year ago.”
Prior to the match, Imlay City honored its five seniors – Schriber, libero Natalie Stone, defensive specialist Sydney Livingston, middle Alyssa Evans, and outside Cassie Verellen – who would all go on to play a key role in the victory.
“They’re basically the leadership of our program and they’ve really set the tone,” Van Dyk said. “We’ve got to work with them for a complete year since stepping in last August and just to see their growth, it makes me so proud.”
The Pioneers had quite a bit to celebrate as well despite the loss. Over the weekend the team went 4-2 in a tournament and picked up a few milestones along the way as seniors Kylee Stribling and Kobi Stribling collected their 1,000th and 500th career kills, respectively. And last night, junior Isabella Edwards joined them with her 500th career kill.
“These are really nice accomplishments for the girls to have. I don’t know if Bella knew it, but she played her best match tonight. I bet that’s better than any match she’s played in AAU too,” Wilson said. “We made some adjustments as to how we wanted to set her and get her the ball, and Annalise [Weeder] did a great job of getting her the ball. She did an outstanding job.”
The Spartans improved to 9-2 in the BWAC with the win while the Pioneers fell to 7-4. They’ll finish up conference play this Saturday at the BWAC tournament in Pontiac, each playing their last three league matches.
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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