LEROY — Evart coach Katie Nostrant continues to like the progress her Wildcat volleyball team is making.

Pine River and Evart opened the Highland Conference season with the Bucks sweeping the Wildcats 25-20, 25-21, 25-14 on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

“My girls looked good,” Nostrant said. “The second game, they came together and they all passed and hit. We have to keep it going.”

Mackenzie Denton had an ace to finish the first game for the Bucks. Evart had leads early in the second game. Natalie O’Dell’s ace gave her team an 11-6 lead.

Pine River came back at the end with Riley Henry’s ace for the 25th point.

Emma Whitley had a kill for Pine River in the third game to end the match.

Livia Hopkins, a sophomore, has been among the key players for Evart.

She also played as a freshman outside hitter for the Wildcats. “I’ve improved a lot more on jumping up and having harder hits,” she said. “I’m working on getting my serves down more so they’re hitting the front row instead of just going to people.”

The Wildcats “have gotten a lot better as a group on our passing,” Hopkins said. “I feel we’re more experienced in getting our passing down compared to last year. I want to keep the team’s sprits up and work on my overall game.”

Hopkins also plays basketball and softball at Evart.

KayLee Goodman had 13 kills and 15 digs and Sophie Johnson had 29 assists for Pine River.

“We opened conference play with a win,” Pine River coach Jana Dennis said. “It was an entire team effort. We were a little sluggish at times but fought through that to win in three. The girls showed resilience in those moments and that was great to see. KayLee’s leadership spearheaded this win as well as some of our younger players. Sophie is gaining confidence every day in the setter’s role and that helped us in our win.”

Pine River is at the McBain Invitational on Saturday. Evart is home against Beal City on Tuesday.