BEAVERTON – Gladwin County saw its first high school volleyball game of the season last Friday and it was quite a matchup. The defending Jack Pine Conference Champions, Beaverton, hosted last year’s runner-up, the Gladwin Flying G’s. The crowd was small due to COVID-19 restrictions, but those fans that were allowed to attend made a lot of noise.

Beaverton jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set behind three kills from senior Becca Wirt and back-to-back aces from junior Hannah Stearns forcing Gladwin coach Tony Wetmore to call an early timeout. The Flying G’s were unable to get back in the game and with a 19-8 lead, Stearns served the final six points to give the Beavers a 25-8 win.

Set two followed a similar pattern with the Beavers again jumping out to a 7-1 lead. After Gladwin scored three of the next four points to narrow the gap, Beaverton went on a 6-0 run which basically sealed the game. Senior Molly Gerow, served five straight points including two aces during the stretch. The Beavers went on to take the set by an identical 25-8 score.

Down 0-2, Gladwin didn’t quit. The girls came out fired up in the third set and had the Beavers on their heals early. They jumped out to a 9-4 lead forcing Beaverton Coach Steve Evans to call a timeout. Gladwin continued to attack and eventually built a ten point lead, 17-7. Trailing 19-11 late the Beavers went on a 9-4 run to make things close, 23-20 before the Flying G’s closed it out taking a 25-20 win.

Set four belonged to the Beavers. The score was tied 2-2 early before they went on a 12-0 run. Beaverton attacked repeatedly during the stretch forcing the young Gladwin team into multiple errors. Gerow had four kills during the stretch while Alexis Grove served 11 straight points. The score was 14-2 at this point and the Beavers went on to win the set 25-12 and the match 3-1.

Beaverton played like the veteran team they are. Lead by seniors Mady Pahl, Gerow and Wirt, along with juniors Stearns and Grove, and sophomore Faith Danielak the Beavers are loaded with players who have played on the sports biggest stage in Battle Creek. As Evans told me last August, “these girls won’t be nervous,” and that was obvious by the way they responded in the fourth set last Friday. Gladwin had some momentum which the Beavers quickly extinguished.

Gerow led the Beavers with 21 kills and 17 digs, Pahl had 37 assists and 8 kills, Grove added 14 digs, while Stearns had 11 digs, 5 kills and 4 aces, and Wirt had 7 kills. “Overall we played pretty well,” said Evans. “Gladwin is a tough team and they are going to be a force in the JPC this season.”

Gladwin was led by Erin Breault with 10 digs and 8 kills, Taylor Vasher had 17 digs and 4 kills, Avery Miller added 7 digs and 11 assists, Renae Parrett had 11 digs and five kills, and Delaney Reynolds had 11 assists. “Overall it was great to be back in a gym last week, it just felt like a breath of fresh air to actually practice on a real net with all of our equipment,” said Wetmore. “As a young team we know we need more time and the focus is to make small improvements every day to get better.” 

“We didn’t play well in the first two sets and then somehow found our groove for the third set,” continued Wetmore. “I’m still seeing positive spurts in our decisions we are making but we know we still have a lot of learning to do.” Gladwin will be back in action on Wednesday when they host Harrison.

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