NORTH CENTRAL - The North Central Jets first volleyball match this season went to a grueling fifth set to decide the winner, ending with the Mid Pen Wolverines narrowly escaping with a 16-14 victory in the finale.
With that loss aside, Jets' coach Andy DeBock sees a lot of new faces on his varsity team, and a lot of promise as well.
"They showed plenty of good signs of life," he said. "They are still a really young group. In that game, we had pretty much the best passing I've seen, and we were able to use the height we've got on this team.
"They held their head up high (against Mid Pen), and they are a close knit team that seems to talk and communicate well."
The three returning players to this year's Jets squad feature two seniors; Amber Buck and Natily Betters, and one junior, Paige Whitens. Buck and Whitens are front row hitters, while Betters guards the back row.
The group of new players includes senior Amanda Schultz, who plays in the back row. The rest of the girls are juniors. Morgan Wells and Skye Triest are front row hitters, Kennedy Faccio is the setter, and Kelsey LaBonte joins Betters and Schultz in the back row.
The remaining schedule:
Aug 30 - at Rapid River;
Sept. 6 - at Superior Central; Sept. 11 - Munising; Sept. 13 - Forest Park; Sept. 18 - at Big Bay de Noc; Sept. 22 - at Marquette (NMU Invitational); Sept. 24 - Mid Pen; Sept. 25 - Bark River-Harris; Sept. 27 - at North Dickinson;
Oct. 1 - at Stephenson; Oct. 8 - Forest Park; Oct. 11 - Big Bay de Noc; Oct. 16 - at Bark River-Harris; Oct. 18 - North Dickinson; Oct. 22 - Superior Central; Oct. 23 - at Munising; Oct. 25 - Rapid River.
North Central has introduced a slightly different playing style this year than in the past. According to their coach, they have been working a lot more on blockers and off-the-ball attacks that are a little farther away from the net.
"We've never really had the passing up closer to the net, and if we did it was always over just a little bit," he said. "We've been working more on 10-foot hits, and making sure that if they don't always get a good hit, they at least get it over (the net) in a good solid matter."
DeBock also said that greatest concentration in practice so far has been his team's passing ability, and they are doing a great job of picking it up.
"These girls seem to communicate well, and they're better at closing up the gaps," he added. "They are doing a good job so far. In the last game, they showed they can fill up the holes very well."
Coach DeBock believes that all of these news aspects to the Jets' game will inevitably turn them into a better team overall.
"I think it will help us to show up at Rapid River (today) and hopefully do some damage against them," he said.
Of course, he realizes that defeating the Rockets on their own court can be easier said than done.
"Rapid River is a fast team, we've got to be just as fast and just as solid," DeBock said.