EVART – Pine River was minus several players Tuesday night but the Bucks still had enough fire power to pull out a 3-0 Highland Conference victory over the Evart Wildcats.

Pine River snuck past the Wildcats 25-18 in a tough first game and then prevailed in the next two sets 25-8, 25-20.

The Bucks were without several key players out with illnesses, including Christie and Kassy Nelson and Alexis Stokely.

“Those three were sick and missed school and practice (Monday),” said Pine River coach Jana Dennis. “We had to do some quick changing. I think at the beginning, it showed quite a bit.”

“With three players on the bench, we did pretty well,” said Pine River junior Paige Esline. “We started out slow but we finished good.”

Mariah Holmes served an ace for Pine River to give the Bucks a 22-18 lead in the first game and Michelle Kelsey served the 25th point.

“We played a decent game but we got down,” said Evart sophomore Tabby Turley. “Our first game was OK and we thought we would win that third game but then we got down on ourselves again.”

“We got down a little bit and fell apart from there,” said Evart coach Jayme Maddern. “The first and third games, we played well.”

Evart had serve receive problems the second game and fell behind 12-2 on three straight service aces from Kelsey. She also served aces for the 24th and 25th point. A Jamie Justin block produced her team’s 23rd point.

Saige Nabozny had a kill to give Evart a 2-0 lead in the third game. Lydia Wetters served the Wildcats to a 3-0 lead. Kristin Kullman served Evart to a 7-3 advantage. Justin had four straight service points to tie the game 9-9. Elizabeth Whitley had a kill for a 13-11 Bucks’ lead. But Wetters served an ace and two more points for a 15-13 Evart advantage. Kullman served Evart to an 18-16 lead but then the Bucks made their move.

Cayman Gatt served for Pine River’s 24th point and Rachel Motzer had a kill for match point.

“We overcame the obstacles and did a nice job,” Dennis said. “Obviously when you miss three key players, it changes the chemistry on the floor. I had no doubt that we would be able to do this.”

For Pine River, Whitley had 15 assists, 10 digs and three kills; Cayman Gatt had eight kills and seven digs; Mariah Holmes had eight digs and three kills and Kelsey served 13 for 14 from the line and had 10 digs

“We had the goal of winning in three games. We were able to do it,” Dennis said. “The girls that were out were definitely missed because they are an important part of our team but the seven that were able to play pieced it together nicely and got the job done. Elizabeth Whitley did a great job being that vocal leader on the floor.”

Kirsten Parsons had six kills and Nabozny three kills for Evart. Jessica Tea contributed six blocks. It also was Evart’s Pink Out night for breast cancer awareness.

“The girls were fired up,” Maddern said. “It was our first game with everyone healthy in about a month. We needed to play together again.”

The Bucks are 28-12-2 and 4-1 in the Highland.