Pine River rallies on Senior Night

ON THE ATTACK: Pine River's Elizabeth Whitley looks to put down a kill on the attack Tuesday against McBain. (Herald Review photo/Martin Slagter)
ON THE ATTACK: Pine River’s Elizabeth Whitley looks to put down a kill on the attack Tuesday against McBain. (Herald Review photo/Martin Slagter)

LEROY — Pine River’s volleyball team overcame some early struggles to go out as winners on senior night in a 3-2 win over McBain on Tuesday.

The Bucks (31-15-2, 5-1) 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 honored seniors Cayman Gatt, Jamie Justin, Mariah Holmes and Christie Nelson, coach Jana 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.”

McBain led 16-11 in the second game before a kill by Paige Esiline got the Bucks going. Esiline later provided a huge point with the game tied at 24-24 to lift the Bucks to a win.

Pine River didn’t have any problems with the Ramblers in the third game, getting off to a 9-2 lead after a block by Gatt.

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.”

Alexis Stokely later served five straight points to make it 16-3 in helping the Bucks cruise to a 2-1 lead.

The Ramblers had an answer in the fourth game behind strong serving to get back into the game.

Dennis said the Bucks allowed McBain back into the match.

“I think (we) just kind of lost our edge,” she said. “We expected them to crumble, but you should never expect that from an opponent. (McBain) showed a lot of mental toughness in that fourth game.”

The Bucks would have an answer, starting off strong in the fifth and deciding game thanks to an early 8-2 lead. Justin provided a big kill over the top of the McBain defense to make it 5-2. Gatt then buried another kill to make it 6-2. Esiline added a key block to make it 10-4.

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.

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from this match.