EVART – Evart’s volleyball team struggled with serve receive early at key times and Pine River took advantage for a 25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 27-25 win in Highland Conference action on Thursday.

Every game was tight from start to finish and the Wildcats nearly forced a fifth game.

Pine River’s Emma Whitley served for the last six points of the first game and had three aces in the stretch to key a come-from-behind Bucks’ win.

Lillian Johnson had a key block for Pine River in the second game for an 18-11 lead.

Madi Sparks and Avery Sumpter both served key points for the Bucks. Makenna Geeseman served key points for the Wildcats to keep them in the game.

Kara Henry’s tip cut the Bucks lead to 9-8 in the third game. Deanna Conklin served four straigjht points for an 12-9 lead.

The two teams battled to a 15-15 tie. McKenzy Mckay served for two straight points and a 17-15 Wildcats lead. Pine River rallied to tie the game at 19-all. Conklin’s ace put Evart up 22-19 and Henry followed with a kill. Her block ended the game at 25-22.

McKay’s kill gave Evart a key point despite the Bucks using Whitley’s serving for an 8-6 lead in the fourth game.

Sparks served Pine River to an 11-7 lead. Evart came back to tie it 11-11. Henry’s kill gave the hosts a 14-12 lead. She had another kill moments later for a 17-14 Evart advantage. Whitley’s tip for Pine River tied the game 17-17. Skylar Baumgardner followed with a kill for the Wildcats.

McKay’s kill put Evart up 20-19. Geeseman’s kill made it a four-point game.

Baumgardner served her team to a 24-22 lead. Pine River scored the next three points but Evart tied it 25-all. The Bucks netted the next two points for the win.

“We (struggled) but we still won,” Whitley said. “That’s what matters.”

Whitley had 14 kills, 22 digs and six aces; Sparks added nine kills and eight digs and Avery Sumpter helped tremendously on defense adding 17 digs.

“Tonight was a complete team win.” Pine River coach Jana Dennis said. “Everybody contributed in some way and that was great. We had many opportunities to work on resilience and being tenacious.

For the Wildcats, Conklin and Ava Retlewski had 11 digs apiece. Ryenn and Skylar Baumgardner had 10 digs apiece. McKay had nine points and two kills. Henry had four kills while Baumgardner had three and Geeseman two.

“We played four really good games of volleyball,” Evart’s Amanda Brown said. “The games we lost were only by a few points.”