Eleven points that is all that separated Beaverton and Gladwin this season. Through 10 sets the Beavers scored 207 points and the Flying G’s scored 196 that is barely more than a point a game. It’s no wonder that the Beavers were in first place and the Flying G’s were only a game behind in second entering the match last Wednesday.
Gladwin, once again, got off to a good start. They jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first set before the Beavers battled back to tie the score 9-9. The teams traded points up to 19-19 when the Flying G’s finally took control and went on the win the set 25-22. After falling behind 1-0 in the second set Beaverton went on an eight-point run behind the serving of Alexis Grove and kills by Hannah Stearns and Faith Danielak. Triniti Siegert stopped the run with a kill, but the Flying G’s were not able to get back into the game as the Beavers went on to win 25-14
The third set was back and forth early and the score was tied 11-11 when Lizzie Haines came up to serve. She handcuffed the Beavers with several serves while Ella Wheeler and Renae Parrett had kills as Gladwin moved out to an 18-11 lead. Wheeler stayed hot with three more kills and Gladwin took the set 25-13.
Set four was the best of the night with 12 ties along the way. Gladwin took a 24-22 lead and was serving for the match before Beaverton scored the next four points to send the match to a deciding fifth set with a 26-24 win. Beaverton’s comeback didn’t come as a surprise to their coach Steve Evans. “Our girls have had the experience of winning those kids of sets,” he said. “We have won them before.” During a timeout while still trailing by one he said, “we talked about not getting caught up in the moment and playing nervous. We had to trust our training and focus on our job.”
The fifth set was all Beaverton. They scored the first three points before eventually extending their lead to 10-3 on their way to a 15-8 win and a 3-2 win in the match. There were a lot of great performances on both sides of the net. Hannah Stearns led the Beavers with 14 kills and 15 digs, Leiyah Mungin added six kills, 18 assists and 20 digs, and Alexis Grove had nine kills and 26 digs.
Others playing well for Beaverton included; Kaelyn Fischer with 22 assists, nine digs, Faith Danielak 11 kills, Sawyer Gerow 10 digs and Karly Fischer four kills. “Gladwin is a solid well coached team, they are better each time we play them,” said Evans. “I couldn’t be more proud of my players, they had their backs against the wall and stayed mentally strong. They never flinched when they faced two match points.”
It had to be a hard night for Gladwin. They played great at times and were so close to winning. One break here or there could have led to a different outcome. “We feel like we can be really aggressive, but Beaverton once again showed the calm consistency that comes with a winning culture,” said Gladwin coach Tony Wetmore. “They showed that calm commanding demeanor that has been earned through experience and is why they are still on top. Steve Evans and his girls were just the most solid all around team that we’ve seen.”
The Flying G’s still have a lot to play for going forward and Wetmore expects his team to rebound. “We have five conference games left and we want to keep our second place spot,” he said. “Sometimes in life you do all the right things and still lose. We will keep working on getting more consistent and improving. Looking forward to next year already.”
Erin Breault had a big night for the Flying G’s with 31 digs and 21 kills. Delaney Reynolds had 40 assists, 12 digs and three aces. Renae Parrett added 26 digs and eight kills; Delaney Conley added 20 digs and three assists.
Other leaders for Gladwin included Lizzie Haines seven kills, four digs, Maddie Cantrell three aces, five digs, Ella Wheeler six kills, two digs, and Siegert two kills, three digs, one assist.
With the win Beaverton improved to 8-0 in the Jack Pine Conference and 20-9 overall. They are play solid volleyball and as the statistics indicate they are getting contributions from multiple positions. With the graduation loss of Molly Gerow and Mady Pahl others have had to step up and they have. Two that caught my eye this week were Mungin and Danielak. Faith had several kills at key moments and isn’t afraid to keep swinging even when the score is tight.
When I asked her about it after the match she said it “felt great,” but deflected the credit saying that there were some amazing passes and sets. The timing was perfect.” She also liked the way her team remained “disciplined” in the key moments.
Mungin seemed to be everywhere Wednesday night. It was reminiscent of some of the great players that came before her. “I think I have gotten faster and am playing better this year,” she said. She is also trying to become more of a leader. “I think this team is getting better and if we keep pushing and fighting like we did tonight we are going to go far.”
Gladwin is 22-4-1 overall and 8-2 in the conference. They host Pinconning tonight before traveling to Clare next Wednesday for the final Jack Pine Conference Quad of the season. They will get the state tournament started in Bullock Creek on November 1 when they play Standish-Sterling.