MANTON – Just when it looked like nothing was going to stop the Beavers march to another Finals appearance in Battle Creek a familiar foe reared its ugly head. The recent surge in Covid-19 cases has put all of the remaining fall sports tournaments on hold. We are going to have to wait until probably December to see if the Beavers return to the Final Four, but until then we can applaud the accomplishments of a great group of girls and coaches.

Those accomplishments include another Jack Pine Championship their second in a row. They also won their fourth straight District Championship and last week the Beavers claimed the Regional Championship for the second time in as many years. They traveled to Manton last Tuesday and Thursday and came away with straight set victories in both matches.

Tuesday night’s win over Traverse City St. Francis was big. The Gladiators came into the match ranked seventh in Division 3. “They could have gone all the way to the final four if we hadn’t stopped them,” said Coach Steve Evans after the match on Tuesday night. “That was a very good team that we beat tonight.” The Beavers who were ranked fifth entering the match came away with a 25-14, 25-15, and 25-21 win.

Beaverton did a good job keeping St. Francis out of system most of the night especially in the first set when they set the tone by racing out to a 9-1 lead. Molly Gerow had five kills during that stretch, but as you would expect from a quality team the Gladiators battled back and only trailed by three, 15-12 midway through the set before the Beavers went on a 10-2 run to close it out 25-14.

St. Francis grabbed their first lead of the match early in the second set when they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The Beavers tied the score at 4-4 and never looked back on their way to a 25-15 win. To their credit the Gladiators didn’t go down easily. They actually took a five point lead, 12-7, in the third set and kept it close until the end before Beaverton eked a 25-21 win. 

When the Gladiators were able to stay in system they hung with the Beavers. “Kaylin Poole is one of the best players in Division 3,” said Evans. “We were fortunate to keep some of her attacks off the floor and turn them into points.” That’s what makes the Beavers so effective. They had four players with double digit digs and were able to get the ball to setter Mady Pahl who has multiple options to attack with. Gerow, Becca Wirt, Faith Danielak, Hannah Stearns and Leiyah Mungin are all capable at the net. Teams are not able to key on one spot or player.

“I’m really proud of our team,” concluded Evans. “They are really taking their game to the next level.” Statistical leaders for the Beavers included; Gerow 26 kills, 10 digs, Pahl 37 assists, nine digs, Stearns 13 digs, 5 kills, Alexis Grove 17 digs, Mungin 11 digs, three kills, and Danielak four kills.

McBain provided the competition in the Regional Finals and put up a good fight in the first set. The Ramblers got out to a 7-5 lead and Beaverton seemed a little flat after they’re big win over St. Francis. The Beavers needed a spark and they got it from Wirt. She got kills on four of the next seven Beaverton points and her exuberant celebrations after each lighted the fire that got her teammates going as they eventually won the set 25-21.

The Beavers controlled the second set from the start. Grove served 13 straight points and Gerow dominated at the net as Beaverton jumped out to a 17-1 lead on their way to a 25-5 win. The Beavers fell behind 2-0 early in the third set, but recovered quickly. Danielak got a kill to put the Beavers up 3-2. She and Gerow got a block soon after and the Beavers were on their way. They took the third set 25-13 and the match 3-0. 

With the win Beaverton improved to 31-5 on the season and punched their ticket for the Quarterfinals. They were scheduled to play Calumet last night at Houghton Lake, but the tournament is on hold for now. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) plans to finish the season and crown a champion at a later date. Lets hope it is in Battle Creek and the Beavers are once again part of the action. 

“It’s exciting to win 2 straight regionals. These girls have battled so hard this season to earn the chance to play for Battle Creek,” said Evans. “McBain is a really talented team that plays more mature than their years.  They are going to be a force in the next few years.”

Pahl led Beaverton with 35 assists. Gerow had 21 kills, 10 digs and three blocks. Wirt had nine kills, Danielak six kills and two blocks and Grove had 14 digs and three aces.

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