Pine River girls take first at Glen Lake Invitational

SOLID D: Miriah Holmes (left) and Jamie Justin (5) go up for the block in Pine River's home game with McBain last week. (Herald Review photo/Martin Slagter)
SOLID D: Miriah Holmes (left) and Jamie Justin (5) go up for the block in Pine River's home game with McBain last week. (Herald Review photo/Martin Slagter)

LEROY -- It was the right time for an outstanding effort.

Pine River took first place in the Glen Lake Invitational on Saturday.

“The girls have been focused all week on winning this one,” said Pine River coach Jana Dennis. “When they put their minds to something, there never is a question of whether it would come true.”

The Bucks defeated Lake City 21-13, 21-8, 21-7 and Grand Traverse Academy 21-13, 21-7, 21-19 in pool play. In semifinal play, the Bucks beat Lake City again 25-12, 25-9 and dumped East Jordan in the finals 25-20.

For Pine River, Cayman Gatt had 23 kills, 18 digs and seven aces; followed by Alex Stokely with 27 assists, 15 digs and 11 aces; Elizabeth Whaley with 42 assists, 14 digs and nine aces and Christie Nelson with 36 digs.

“The girls had an opportunity this weekend to enjoy each other and have fun playing together,” Dennis said. “Getting this trophy was important for all but especially for the seniors. The team stepped up and delivered it. I felt the entire team was able to contribute and play not only for themselves but for their teammates. This is a great confidence booster for us going into the last week of conference play, conference tournament next weekend and districts after that.”

Pine River overcame some early struggles to go out as winners on senior night in a 3-2 win over McBain on Tuesday (Oct. 16).

The Bucks struggled with their serving in the first game but settled down to defeat the Ramblers 17-25, 26-24, 25-16, 19-25, 15-7.

It was a matter of staying focused in picking up a win on a night the Bucks their honored seniors Gatt, Jamie Justin, Mariah Holmes and Nelson, Dennis said.

“We struggled with our serves in the first game, so we concentrated on making sure we got our serves in,” she said. “Usually we’re a good serving team, so it was uncharacteristic of us to have so many errors in the first game.

“I think we just had to stay mentally focused,” she said following the loss in the first game. “We were trying to find players (on McBain) that were struggling or a little off their game and try to take it to them.”

Gatt, who finished with 17 digs and three blocks, said she was happy to get a win on senior night and thought the team played well once they settled down.

“We just needed to stay focused,” she said. “Sometimes we kind of lose focus. When we are focused we have fun, and when we have fun, we play better.”

Gatt said winning on the home court was a special and served as motivation for the Bucks when they fell behind at different points throughout the evening.

“Our senior class is so close to each other,” she said. “It’s hard to say goodbye and leave, so it’s important to make the best memories you can during your senior year.”

Esiline finished with six kills and two blocks for the Bucks, while Justin had six kills and one block. Elizabeth Whitley contributed 17 assists, 11 digs and four kills in the win.

Pioneer sports editor Martin Slagter also contributed to this report.