By Justin Marietti
HARRIS - The battle of the Rivers turned out to be just that, with the momentum shifting back and forth until the Bark RIver-Harris Broncos finally edged the Rockets in five sets, winning 3-2 (25-15, 25-15, 23-25, 19-25, 15-7).
Justin Marietti | Daily Press
Bark River’s Aleesa Madalinski squares off against Rapid River’s Rikki Stropich for control of the ball Thursday night. Bark River won 3-2.
Heading into this game, both teams were 7-1 in the Central U.P. (CUP) Conference, in a four-way tie between Superior Central, Rapid River, BR-H, and Mid Peninsula. BR-H had defeated all of those teams with the exception of Rapid River until Thursday night.
"I think the way we played tonight, we have a great chance (at a playoff run)," said Bark River coach John Jorasz. "There's no doubt in my mind that we have the ability and the skill to go places this year."
The Rockets had a very sluggish start, falling 25-15 in the first two sets. The Broncos were able to seize the momentum rather easily and won those sets without much of a fight.
RAPID RIVER - Stropich (6 kills, 10 blocks); A. Kanyuh (1 ace, 8 kills, 10 assists, 21 digs); H. Kanyuh (16 assists, 13 digs); Stenlund (6 aces, 7 kills, 9 digs); Brockway (2 aces, 11 kills).
BARK RIVER - Stenberg (2 aces); VanBrocklin (2 blocks, 1 assist); A. Madalinski (1 kill, 6 blocks, 3 assists); Jenshak (3 kills, 3 assists); St. John (1 kill, 3 blocks, 2 assists); Derusha (1 ace, 6 kills, 5 blocks, 6 assists); S. Madalinski (7 aces, 5 kills, 3 assists).
However, things changed in the third set, which was the most competitive of the evening. With nine ties throughout the set, neither team could really run away with it. But after a 23-23 tie, Rapid River shut down the Broncos, and kept themselves in the match.
"We lost our momentum," said Jorasz. "Rapid River was able to throw us off of our game in that third set."
The fourth set was also tightly matched. But early on, that momentum was clearly still in the hands of the Rockets, who marched out to a 20-13 lead. Bark River took a time out, and rallied back to make it 24-19. However, at that point the damage was already done, and the Rockets secured the win to force a tiebreaker set.
BR-H seemed to carry some steam into the final set, and took the set without much of a struggle, 15-7.
It was a tough loss for the Rockets, but coach Lisa Kanyuh was still pleased with how some of her girls played.
"Savannah Stenlund had a nice run, and Hannah Micheau did a great job running our offense," she said. "She really ponied up."
The Broncos' jayvees also won (25-21, 25-18).
Rapid River resumes on Oct. 4 at Superior Central, while Bark River heads to Big Bay de Noc on Oct. 1.