LEROY — Pine River graduated several standout players from last year’s volleyball squad but coach Jana Dennis is confident of her team’s prospects of going forward in a season that starts Saturday at the Traverse City Invitational.

The Bucks will also be at the Kalkaska Quad on Aug. 26. After that, they’re idle until Sept. 7 when they have their home invitational.

The Bucks were planning on an overnight bonding event earlier this week and will then make final preparations for the TC invite.

“It’s a pretty competitive tournament,” Dennis said. “There’s usually 12 to 16 teams there.”

Dennis has 12 players on her roster including five returnees with junior Kassy Nelson and seniors Paige Esiline, Michelle Kelsey, Rachel Motzer and Alexis Stokely.

Esiline is a middle hitter while Kelsey and Motzer are outside hitters and Stokely is a setter. Nelson is all-around.

“We can always improve on defense,” Dennis said, “and passing off the serve. That’s where we’ve had trouble. We’re focusing a lot on our passing form and making the right decisions.”

Dennis expects Beal City to be among the top teams in the Highland Conference.


Coach Jenny Hoaglund’s soccer team opens Friday at Mason County Eastern and faces Houghton Lake High School next Monday.

Entering this week, Hoaglund has 20 on the roster. Seven seniors graduated from last year. Schroeder Vanderhoef is among the key returning players along with Ethan Crawford.

“I have a lot of young kids,” Hoaglund said, “and a lot of underclassmen.”