Pine River volleyball girls go 3-0 in home quad

LEROY -- It wasn’t easy but the Pine River volleyball team went 3-0 in a quad at home on Wednesday, Aug. 22

Pine River opened the night with a 25-8, 26-24 win over Clare. It was 25-15, 25-12, Pine River over Kalkaska. Then the Bucks opened their third match over East Jordan with a 25-17 win. But East Jordan came back with a 25-23 victory to force a third game against Pine River.

The Bucks won the decisive third game 17-15.

“I think we did good,” said senior hitter Cayman Gatt. “We did a good job coming back. We never gave up.”

“We had some really good moments,” said Pine River coach Jana Dennis. “I think we played down to the level of our opponents at times. We didn’t stay at a consistent rhythm. That’s something we have to work on.”

The Bucks found themselves behind 13-10 but then senior Jamie Justin took over with a kill and block to make it 13-12. East Jordan scored for a 14-12 lead but then served out of bounds. Justin had a block to give her team a 15-14 lead. East Jordan came back for a 15-15 tie. But Justin followed with a kill and an ace for the 17-15 win. Christy Nelson chipped in with a key ace down the stretch.

“I thought we started off well,” said junior setter Elizabeth Whitley. “In the middle we lost it. We ended up coming from behind and winning it at the end. (Coach said) we did a good job of not giving up.”

“Against East Jordan, we did a nice job of coming back and getting that intensity back,” Dennis said. “We’d like to keep that intensity the whole time.”

Gatt agreed that the Bucks were challenged with a three-game night, in keeping their intensity at the same level.

“Sometimes we play down to other team’s level and not up to our potential,” Gatt said. “We have to make sure if we make one mistake, we don’t give up and don’t let it get to us.”

For the Bucks, Gatt had 16 kills and 27 digs while Justin added 19 kills, four blocks and six aces and Whitley had 10 kills, 17 digs and eight aces.

“We started off very strong,” Dennis said. “The whole team stepped up and worked to get the job done. As the night went on we got more comfortable with things and had the opportunity to try some things we have been working on in practice. Our intensity rode a roller coaster (Wednesday) but we picked it up when necessary.”

Pine River was at the Kingsley Invitational on Saturday and lost in the finals.

The Bucks, in pool play, lost to Kingsley 25-22, 25-23 and defeated Kalkaska 25-14, 25- 11 and beat Traverse City Christian 25-20, 25-21.

In quarterfinals, Pine River topped Elk Rapids 25-21, 25-19 and then won over Benzie 25-23, 25-22 in the semifinals. In the finals, Pine River lost to Kingsley 25-22, 19-25, 15-10.

During the day for the Bucks, Cayman Gatt had 35 kills and 46 digs, Jamie Justin contributed 24 kills and seven blocks, Elizabeth Whitley had 57 assists and 22 digs, Alexis Stokely added 45 assists and nine aces and Kassy Nelson had 32 digs

“Our chemistry was off most of the day but the girls continued to fight and battle throughout the day,” Dennis said. “Our intensity really picked up during the Benzie game and continued into finals. A few miscues prevented us from taking home first place but I’m very proud of how the girls kept fighting and working hard all day long.”

Pine River is 11-4 and is home Sept. 8 for a tournament.