Emeralds rally to win district

Todd Rose | Daily Press The Manistique Emeralds hoist the district championship trophy after defeating the Bark River-Harris Broncos Friday night in Harris.

HARRIS — The Manistique Emeralds rallied from a one-set deficit Friday night to defeat the Bark River-Harris Broncos 3-1 (19-25, 25-16, 25-18, 25-19) and win a Division 3 district championship in Harris.

“I think we just had to remind them of the style of play that works best for us,” said Emeralds’ coach Amy Nixon about regathering after dropping the opening set. “As soon as we got back to what we do well, it started coming together for us.”

Set one remained close until a short run from Bark River led by Ally Richer put the Broncos ahead 18-16. While Manistique was able to nab a few more points, two short runs from Bark River ended the set in the Broncos favor.

In the second set, the story was similar, with the Emeralds and Broncos trading points for much of the game. With a two-point advantage, 18-16, Manistique’s Emma Jones — who led the Emeralds in assists with 28 — helmed her team on a five-point run to extend their lead. An ace from Kayla Muth sealed the set for the Emeralds.

The night’s seesaw continued into the third set until another Manistique run, this one for six-points led by Brooke Richey, made it 21-11. Bark River put together several short runs in the final moments but couldn’t capitalize.

Manistique grabbed the lead right away in the fourth set with a kill from freshman Ella Schuetter. Though Bark River gained some momentum in the late stages of the set, the Emeralds never looked back. It was the freshman Schuetter making the final kill on a spike to win the championship for Manistique.

Although she led the team in kills and blocks with 18 and five, respectively, Schuetter credits her teammates for her performance.

“It’s definitely the team,” Schuetter said. “The back row was really strong tonight, and our setting was great.

“Everything just flowed really well, and I’m super happy with how we played tonight.”

Just behind Schuetter in the kill category was Kayla Muth with 15. She, too, made several blocks at the net.

“The game is won and lost at the net,” said Amy Nixon. “We’ve been working on our offense all season long. When that’s working, they’re not stopping us.”

Coming off of a record-breaking performance from Monday’s game against Norway was Madison Zellar. In that match, Zellar set a new school record for aces with 14. The Emeralds’ libero continued her aggressive play Friday, leading the team in digs with 18.

The Emeralds now move on to host Charlevoix next Tuesday in regionals.

“I’m just really proud of the girls,” Nixon said. “We have two at home tonight who are out on quarantine, so I’m happy we were able to give them a representation of our team tonight.”

As the season concludes for the Broncos, coach Jennifer Ives said the team’s hard work through the season was shown through the progress they have made as a group.

“The strides the girls have made is just remarkable,” Ives said. “They are just a different team.”

The game plan for Bark River, according to Ives, was to attack.

“We executed that flawlessly game one,” she said. “We were on our game. We were attacking, and ultimately, we won the set.

“We knew if we let them attack and we got on the defensive, their middle hitter would eat us up.”

Making several key plays at the net for the Broncos through the night was Kassidy Roll.

“We’ve been looking for her to step up and play the net really strong,” said Ives. “I think she did that really well in game one and the other games as well.

“She was there to put up that block. When she was able to swing and get a hold of it — typically — she put it away.”

Another player whose performance stood out to Ives was Graci Varoni, who Ives said didn’t get a major amount of playing time through the year.

“Tonight, when she was put in, she stepped up,” she said. “She played a heck of a defensive game.”

Despite the loss, Ives was pleased with the way her team played.

“When one person was struggling another person was right in there to take her spot,” she said. “I think the whole team did really well.”


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