LEROY — It’s still early in the season and the Pine River Bucks are off to an impressive start.

Pine River won its own invitational on Saturday with a 16-25, 25-18, 15-9 win over Greenville in the finals.

Cayman Gatt had a big day with 37 kills, 46 digs and five blocks for the Bucks while Chelsea Nelson had 95 assists, 45 digs, 24 kills and 15 aces, Christie Nelson had 48 digs and Jessica Hoaglund added 19 digs and 26 kills.

The Bucks beat Glen Lake 25-15, 25-8, Mesick 25-18, 25-19 and Reed City 25-21, 25-15 in pool play and topped Marion in the semifinals 25-19, 25-17.

This past Tuesday, Pine River played Beal City in Highland Conference play. Pine River coach Jana Roy said she expected a league battle for first between the Bucks, Beal City and McBain.

“We’re hoping to beat (Beal City),” Roy said. “It was nice to get the win on Saturday. That was a good confidence booster for the girls.

Christie Nelson is a junior in her first varsity season.

“I’ve been playing for five years and have been on my sister’s traveling team,” Nelson said. “It’s a little different this year because I’m just a back row player. I’m getting used to it.”

As a passer, Nelson has been happy with her performances and with her team’s progress.

“We’re coming together as a team like a family,” she said., “We work together. At first, it was kind of a mess but then we got everything together.”

Improving on passing and working together remains a key goal, Nelson added.

Hoaglund, a senior, is a middle hitter, who saw action on last year’s team that went to the state semifinals. She said she’s more accurate on her hits this season and can hit key spots effectively.

“I knew we were going to do well, but I’m surprised with how well,” she said. “I thought we were going to do well. I don’t think people thought we would do as good as we are.”

Hoaglund is hopeful the Bucks can go far in the state playoffs again.

“We know what it takes,” she said. “We’re working for it.”