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Braves hang on to spill Hematites, 3-2

Justin St. Ours | Daily Press Gladstone’s Makayla Sanville sets up the ball in front of Ishpeming’s Rylee Harris Tuesday at Gladstone.

GLADSTONE — The second meeting within less than a week between the Gladstone and Ishpeming volleyball teams almost had a different outcome as the Braves edged out a five-set win against the Hematites 3-2 (25-12, 23-25, 25-15, 20-25, 15-12).

The final set was tied at 7 with Ishpeming serving, but Gladstone’s Rylee Harris spiked it to give the Braves the lead and the ball. Gladstone kept that momentum until a lifting penalty made it 14-11. The Hematites scored one more before the Braves took the set 15-12.

“I think my girls just played with some heart tonight, and that’s what I’ll expect to see from them for the rest of the season,” Hematites’ coach Kat Beerling said.

Ishpeming took an early lead in the fourth set. The Braves had a chance after a service error gave them possession and made it 13-10, but a quick turnover led to a six-point run by the Hematites, ending at 20-10.

A block-kill from Gladstone’s Megan Crow broke the run and enabled the Braves to start trading runs, eventually coming within two. However, the Hematites finished strong and the set ended at 25-20 after a service error by the Braves (2-2).

The first set was dominated by Gladstone, with an eight-point service run by Chloe Grenier to give the Braves an 11-1 lead. Gladstone controlled the momentum to win 25-12.

“Where our struggle is, is consistency,” Braves’ coach Bill Lawrence said. “We start out strong, we do really well in the first set, but then we’ll kind of coast into the next set and lose. It’s pretty common. We just need to work on having a high energy level all the time.”

Ishpeming showed its tenacity in the second, starting the set with a six-point run by Emma Poirier. It was broken by a double hit. The Hematites stayed ahead, eventually leading 18-9 on the back of a quick run from Ava Koepsel.

It was a kill by Gladstone’s Daisy Croschere that stole the momentum back. The Braves’ Ahna Larson then went on a nine-point service run to give them the lead back at 19-18. However, a serve into the net tied it at 19. Crow spiked one to take the lead back, but Ishpeming tied it up with the next point. Gladstone pulled ahead by two, 23-21, but was rebuffed by a service error. Then, Ishpeming’s Tia Mattila tied it up. Two points from Harris finished the set for the Hematites.

“Our plan coming into today was just to control our side,” Beerling said. “This season we’ve started off very slow, but we’re starting to click. We’ve been working on some things at practice, and I think that what we showed tonight proved we’ve been working hard at practice.”

The third set showed the first wasn’t a fluke, as the Braves finished it 25-15, helped by a six-point run from Mimo Bellea.

“Everybody contributed tonight,” Lawrence said. “Players got in at different points, so that was nice. It was a good team effort.”

Ishpeming, which won the jayvee match 2-0, hosts Manistique Tuesday while Gladstone hosts Escanaba.

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