Beal City girls too much for Pine River volleyball team

LEROY — Beal City were state runners-up in Class D last season and despite being in C this year, the Aggies consider themselves legitimate state title contenders.

They were tough enough on last Wednesday night to gain a spot in the district final at Pine River.

Beal City, 51-3-1, defeated the host school 25-12, 25-12, 25-19 and then defeated Beaverton on Thursday for the title.

“The first two games we started off strong,” Beal City coach Kelly David said. “The third game, we let them play with us a little bit. Overall, I thought we played very well against them. We kept attacking and played good defense.”

The Bucks end their season at 26-18-1.

“We went four games with them in the regular season,” Pine River coach Jana Dennis said. “If you go by the number of games we played against then, then I guess tonight wasn’t as good. We knew they were a solid team coming in and we’d have to play our A  game.”

Led by all-state hitter Addie Schumacher, the Aggies were too tough at the net for the Bucks and fired out to a 21-11 lead in the first game. Jenna Thelsen served an ace and Jordan Schneider had a kill for the 25th point.

“We had to limit the errors on our side,” Dennis said of her team’s pregame strategy. “We had to have good serves and we had to have that communication. We had to keep hitting it instead of playing a tip game.”

The second game was much of the same with the Aggies firing out to an 11-3 lead on an ace from Nicole Gross. Michelle Kelsey was effective in attacks for Pine River and had a kill to make it 18-10. Grace Schafer had a couple of service points to get the Aggies to 25.

The Bucks made Beal City struggle in the third game as Rachel Motzer served Pine River to a 4-0 lead. Kelsey had a kill later in the game for a 15-11 Bucks advantage. But the Aggies started finding their blocks and went on a surge. When Schumacher delivered a kill and Anna Riehl followed with a service point, it was 22-17, Beal City. Schumacher had a block for the 25th point.

“I do like how we’re playing right now but you can always get better,” David said. “We have a lot of improvement to do. We’ll keep trying to get better in practice and get better in the game.”

“From where we started when we struggled in service receives and where we ended in serve receives, that was definitely a plus,” Dennis said. “We came in not sure what this group was going to do because it was a mixed bag with youth and some returners. We had a lot of great things come out of the season.”

Kassy Nelson had 10 digs and three kills for Pine River, while Michelle Kelsey had four digs and six kills; Paige Esiline added six digs and three kills and Tailor Charles helped defensively with 5 digs.

“We knew we would have to play complete aggressive games, last Wednesday, to beat Beal,” Dennis said.

“Our first two games had some inconsistencies that we just couldn’t overcome. Our third game had the intensity we were hoping to start the night with. There were quite a few amazing rallies in the third game but unfortunately didn’t come out on the winning end of them. The team played with a lot of heart and can never be called quitters tonight. Our seniors had a great showing tonight. We wish things would have turned out differently but unfortunately that wasn’t in the plans.”