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Rockets fail to lift off in 3-0 loss to Forest Park

Justin St. Ours | Daily Press Rapid River’s Gabby Moss spikes the ball against Forest Park’s Mercedes Simmons (11) and Sydney Honkala (4) Thursday at Rapid River.

RAPID RIVER — The Rapid River Rockets couldn’t lift off here Thursday as the Forest Park Trojans swept the Rockets 3-0 (25-22, 25-20, 25-20) in a Skyline Central Conference volleyball contest.

Rapid River led 15-10 in the first set on the back of kills from Kristin Goodacre, Cecilia Pilon and Gabby Moss, but a seven-point service run from Forest Park’s Caitlyn Bloomburg and an out-of-bounds Rapid River return gave the Trojans an 18-17 lead.

“(In) the first set they lit the fire right away, and they looked great,” Rockets’ coach Kristy Kerstner said. “They had so much energy, and they played great. The girls were back-and-forth every single match, and I was very proud of how they played in the first.”

A few points later, the Rockets’ Addie Christoff tied it at 20 and Moss served an ace to put them back in front. Forest Park (8-5-4, 6-2 SCC) took the next few points thanks to Kelsey Ragio and Mercedes Simmons and didn’t let go as the set ended 25-22 on a Rockets’ hit out-of-bounds.

“We just came in with our normal routine and our normal lineup to swing as hard as we could,” Trojans’ coach Ana Valesano said. “We (executed well) in the front row. Mercedes Simmons executed like she normally does, as well as Elaina Perry in the back row. Kelsey Ragio got a lot of digs, and Sydney Honkala was running the show as our setter.”

In the second set, the Trojans pulled ahead early after a short run from Honkala, but the Rockets (5-7) responded and tied it twice.

A Rapid River serving error gave possession back to the Trojans with a 24-20 lead, and a spike from Simmons bounced off a block attempt from the Rockets to land outside and finish the set.

“We tried to get as many hands on (Simmons’ shots) as possible, but we gave her too many free balls and overpasses,” Kerstner said. “She ate those overpasses alive.”

Forest Park put Rapid River on its heels in the third set. The Trojans jumped out to a 20-9 lead.

“(In the third set), we felt defeated before we even started,” Kerstner said. “We lost our energy.”

However, Rockets’ runs from Myah Pearson and Christoff cut their deficit to 21-17.

“We need to cover those tips a lot better, and I think that sometimes when we get in trouble on our side, we get a little frantic,” Valesano said.

“We need to slow down and take care of the ball.”

A Trojans’ serve out-of-bounds gave Rapid River a final chance, but a Rockets’ shot into the net finished the match.

“We didn’t do a lot of our hits or swinging that we normally do,” Rockets’ assistant coach Mike Mohler said. “There was too much tipping. Once they started covering our tips, we needed swingers — especially in the second and third set.”

Rapid River hosts Munising Tuesday. Forest Park, which won the jayvee match 2-0, visits West Iron Tuesday.

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