Battle Creek takes four-set victory over Pierce
BATTLE CREEK — Battle Creek jumped out to a 2-0 lead in sets, then held on to thwart the comeback efforts of a stubborn Pierce team Tuesday night, 25-22, 25-14, 23-25, 25-20.
Both teams featured all-state candidates in Maggie Brahmer of Pierce and Battle Creek’s Tria McLean. Both filled up the stat sheets in the four-set encounter.
Battle Creek took an early 6-0 lead in the first set as Riley Seifert scored with a kill off the block and then McLean delivered five straight service aces.
But Pierce made it interesting when Brahmer’s kill pulled the Bluejays to within 20-11. Two Brahmer service aces followed by kills from Rhayna Walder and Katrina Meier gave the Jays’ additional momentum by pulling them to within 20-15.
BriAnna Zohner’s kill ended the rally, but Pierce was able to cut it to two, 21-19, on four consecutive Battle Creek errors.
After a timeout, McLean took over with two kills and then added a perfect set for teammate Seifert to finish off the first set 25-22.
Battle Creek’s aggressive serve kept the Bluejays out of system and resulted in nine service aces in the first set alone.
“I’ll give it to Battle Creek — they came out and they have a really aggressive serve,” Pierce coach Brittany Weber said. “They’re a well-disciplined team and they don’t let the ball hit the floor.”
The Bravettes struggled early in the season with a lot of service errors, but they’ve decreased that over the past few matches.
“We talk about putting a lot of pressure on the opposing teams with our serves and when you do that you’re going to have some missed serves, in the net or deep,” coach Cody Wintz said.
The Bravettes struck early again in the second set, taking a 12-3 lead and never looking back on the way to a 25-14 win. Battle Creek recorded 13 kills in the set, while the Bluejays weren’t able to mount any run longer than three points.
Leading two sets to none, Wintz said he knew Pierce would turn it around.
“They didn’t play their best ball those first two sets. Sometimes trying to keep your team motivated when you win sets that you think are a little bit easier than they should be, you can come out a little bit flat,” he said.
With their backs to the wall, the Bluejays came out fighting in the third, but still had to battle from behind.
A Brahmer kill tied the score at eight and then two kills by Meier gave Pierce its first two-point advantage of the night.
“We started passing a little bit better and things started to go our way offensively,” Weber said.
Pierce led the third set 24-19, before a pair of McLean kills and two Zohner service aces pulled the Bravettes to within 24-23, but the Jays finally converted the fifth set point when Meier put away a kill from the middle.
Pierce looked to even the match in the fourth and jumped to an 8-3 lead, but Battle Creek used kills by McLean, Zohner and Seifert — as well as a pair of Pierce errors — to climb within striking distance, then seized the momentum.
While trailing 11-9, Seifert blocked a Brahmer kill attempt. The Bravettes’ aggressive serve and block helped them to take and then extend the lead. Another Seifert block ended the set and the match 25-20.
“Our front row did a great job of getting a lot of touches and our libero (Shelby Obst) cleaned up a lot of balls for us,” Wintz said. “She made a lot of effort plays, which kind of rallied our team.”
Despite the loss, Weber is optimistic about her Bluejays. “We talk about each day, each drill, getting better, one step at a time and, hopefully at the end of the season, we’re heading in the direction we want to be going,” she said.
Battle Creek defeats Pierce
25-22, 25-14, 23-25, 25,-20
PIERCE (6-4): Maggie Brahmer 18k, 1a, 10d; Katrina Meier 5k, 1a, 1b; Rhayna Waldner 8k, 4d; Abbey Fuerhoff 1k, 2d; Kayla Simmons 13d, 31s; Marie Stone 2d, 1s; Kenzie Moeller 12d; Tazktbb Sporleder 2a, 1d; Faith Lubischer 1k, 3a, 5d.
BATTLE CREEK (7-2): Shelby Obst 3a, 3s, 12d; Brynn Hamer 22s, 3d; BriAnna Zohner 4a, 7k, 1b, 10d; Madi Taake 3a, 5k, 1b, 1s, 1d; Cora Gillespie 4k; Riley Seifert 2a, 8k, 2b, 1s, 14d; Rachel Schlote 1k, 1b, 2d; Tria McLean 6a, 17k, 1b, 13s, 8d.