Rockets ride fast start past Big Bay

Mark Johnson | Daily Press Rapid River’s Gabby Moss (16) with a kill over defending Big Bay de Noc Back Bear Rylie Lawrence (2) Tuesday in the 3-0 Rocket sweep. Brittany Schwartz (17) and Myah Pearson are at the net for the Rockets.

By Mark Johnson

RAPID RIVER — The Rapid River volleyball team was having struggles with slow starts earlier in the season.

The Rockets had no ignition problems here Tuesday night sweeping Big Bay de Noc 3-0, leading from start to finish.

“We played well from the beginning tonight. And we made some rotation changes and adapted well to them, “ said Rapid River coach Kristy Kerstner.

Rapid River (4-7) kept the Black Bears off balance all match long winning 25-13, 25-7, 25-16.

The Rockets totaled 19 service aces, led by Brittany Schwartz with five and three each from Jenna Rubick and Addie Christoff.

“We had some good service runs,” said Kerstner.

“Brittany (Schwartz) had a service run of nine and we had some others on serving runs for us.”

Big Bay de Noc (1-8) struggled in the first two sets and made ball handling errors and service errors to put the visitors on the defensive.

The slow start by the Black Bears was surprising to coach Angie Paulson as her team has been playing competitive matches the past two weeks, including a five-set loss to Superior Central.

“They were flat. We came out flat,” said Paulson.

“I was floored by how poorly we played and started. The third game we had good momentum going up (12-10) and I thought we were going to take it.

“It was a disappointing match after our good matches last week. Bad passes, passes were a biggie that hurt us the most.”

The third set was the most competitive with the Black Bears taking their only leads over the front-running Rockets.

Big Bay led early with two four-point service runs and went ahead 12-10 before a Rockets’ six point run put them back up for good, 16-12.

Emily Thibault was the kill leader for Rapid River with six. The Rockets closed out the match by out-scoring Big Bay 9-4 in the final stretch of the third set.

Thibault closed out the set with a four-point serving run, including two service aces and two kills.

Gabby Moss totaled five kills and Rubick was the assists leader with 10 for the winners.

Rylie Lawrence and Holli Stapleton were the kill leaders for Big Bay with four each and Stapleton led the team with three service aces.