Pine River volleyball team prepares for key matches

LEROY — Pine River’s volleyball team is entering the final weeks of the regular season.

Pine River played Tuesday of this week at McBain Northern Michigan Christian. Next week, the Bucks are home on Tuesday against Evart and play at Beal City on Oct. 31 in the Highland Conference tournament.

Last week, Pine River was in control all night in sweeping Marion during Highland Conference volleyball action.

The Bucks dominated the Eagles in all areas while pulling out a 25-6, 25-16, 25-12 victory on Oct. 13.

“Getting a win in the Highland Conference is always a good thing,” Pine River coach Jana Dennis said. “We didn’t play our top game of the night, but we did what we needed to do.”

After breezing through the first game, the Bucks saw stiffer challenges from Marion in the next two. Kyla Johnson had a kill for a 9-5 lead. Marion cut it to 10-8 on Brittney Ryan’s ace. She had a kill later in the game to cut the Bucks’ advantage to 17-15.

KayLee Goodman was able to finish up the Bucks win with her serving. She had aces for the Bucks’ 22nd and 25th points.

“Our communication was really good and our intensity stayed up,” Goodman said. “There’s times (this season) we were lacking in our communication and it’s been a problem. Communication is our really big key for everything.”

Kierra Justin had a kill for a 7-6 Bucks lead in the third game. Goodman delivered a tip and block for a 14-10 lead. Julie Justin got into a serving streak with two aces for a 23-12 lead. She also served for the 25th point.

“We got some people in different positions they’re not used to getting in,” Dennis said. “We relied a little bit more on our bench.”

The regular season goes until the end of the month when the Bucks will start preparing for districts.

“We’ve gotten a lot better than before the season started,” Kierra Justin said. “It’s been a lot. Communicating around the court and talking (is critical).”

“We’re closer to where we need to be,” Dennis said. “We’ve done some lineup changes and we’re stepping in the right direction.”

Dennis indicated serve receive has been up-and-down.

“Serving has been an issue,” she said. “We’ve been pretty aggressive hitting. Our setter is much stronger than she was at the beginning of the season.”