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Braves drop five-set match

Brian Bell | Marinette EagleHerald Gladstone’s Megan Crow spikes a ball over the net during Monday’s match in Menominee.

MENOMINEE — It was Parent’s Night for the Menominee volleyball team on Monday and the Maroons were able to put on a show by winning their first match of the season 3-2 in a five-set thriller over Gladstone.

With the series tied at 2 heading into the match-deciding Game 5, neither team was able to take an advantage as the biggest lead went to Menominee at two points before a point for Gladstone and a mis-hit by the Maroons evened the score at 7. A kill from junior Makenzie Wellner gave Menominee an 8-7 lead and junior Erin Barrette went on a five-point service run held together by a tap over the net for a point from senior Gracie Finger, three unforced errors on Gladstone and another kill from Wellner to take a 13-7 advantage before the Braves got the ball back on a long serve by Menominee.

Gladstone sophomore Joyce Barron spiked down a kill to cut Menominee’s lead to 13-10, but a kill by junior Jada VanBeek and a tap over the net by Finger sealed a 15-10 win for the Maroons and secured Menominee’s first match-win of the season.

“It’s nice to be able to put on a show at Parent’s Night, and what a show it was,” Menominee coach Sara Betzinger said.

“We started off a little slow like we usually do, but we kept building on the things we did right, started moving around more and we finally started talking to each other. They’re starting to pull each other up and it doesn’t just come from me anymore and that’s really nice to see.”

Gladstone jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first game behind a seven-point service run from senior Chloe Grenier, but Menominee battled back to tie the game at 12 thanks to two aces from senior Ashly Powell, a few mistakes from the Braves and a kill from Gracie Finger. Gladstone senior Josie Lippens served to get the score at 18-13 and VanBeek cut the deficit to 18-16 on two aces, but a long serve gave the ball back to Gladstone and the Braves were able to hold off the Maroons to win Game 1, 25-18.

Game 2 stayed neck-and-neck throughout the start until Wellner stepped to the service line with Menominee trailing 9-8. Wellner served for two straight aces to give Menominee a 10-9 lead, and a mis-hit by Gladstone, a kill from Powell, two more unforced errors on Gladstone and Finger’s tap over the net gave the Maroons a 15-9 advantage before a long serve gave the Braves possession trailing 15-10.

Gladstone junior Ahna Larson controlled the serve with the score at 19-13 in favor of Menominee and was able to trim the lead to 19-16, but a long serve gave possession back to the Maroons and the Braves were only able to muster one more point on a bad serve as Menominee evened the series with a 25-17 win.

The third game went back-and-forth all the way through, with the biggest lead going to Gladstone at 12-7, but Menominee stayed close and was able to tie the game at 14 and take a 15-14 lead but it didn’t last as Gladstone got the serve back with the score knotted at 15.

Larson gave the Braves a 17-15 lead and senior Allie Roman pushed it to 21-16 but Menominee fought back again and tied it up at 21. The Maroons wouldn’t score again in Game 3 and Gladstone ended with a kill from Grenier to win 25-21.

Needing a win to keep the match going, Menominee trailed 4-3 when Powell stepped to the line to serve. Four aces and a Wellner kill later the Maroons led 8-4 and didn’t give it up the rest of the game no matter how close Gladstone got.

Every time the Braves got within one and threatened to tie the game, Menominee’s hitters would come through with a kill or find a spot on the floor where Gladstone couldn’t get to the ball.

“We brought back the intensity we had last week against Esky and we’re building on it now, which is perfect because this is the time to start building momentum,” Betzinger said.

With the score at 15-14 in favor of Menominee, Powell smashed down a kill and senior Emma Laatsch served for three aces and another point to get the lead to 19-14.

Gladstone threatened to tie the game when Lippens went on a four-point service run to get within one (22-21), but a timeout from Menominee allowed Betzinger to talk with her team and the Maroons got the serve back on the next ball with the lead at 23-21. Wellner then sealed the 25-22 win with her serve to move on to the fifth and final game.

One of the reasons for Menominee’s success was the team’s ability to keep serves in play. As a team, Menominee only missed on a handful of serve attempts and totaled 21 aces led by Powell’s nine.

“I think (our serve game) made one of the biggest differences for us. We only missed a few and usually we miss a lot more than that so we’re fortunate to get those in and get some confidence,” Betzinger said. “It was that, and then we just played smarter than we have all year. When the hits weren’t there we started pushing and were able to time the hits right and get some really nice ones.”

In addition to leading the team with nine aces, Powell added six kills and two blocks and had a team-high 15 points; Finger had a team-high eight kills; Wellner totaled six kills and led the Maroons with four blocks and Barrette had five kills and seven digs.

Menominee travels to Marquette on Thursday while Gladstone hosts Iron Mountain.

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