Esky tops Maroons for GNC win

Justin St. Ours | Daily Press Escanaba’s Mya Whitson (10) spikes the ball against Menominee’s Piper Monroe (front) Thursday in Escanaba.

ESCANABA — The Escanaba Eskymos started Great Northern Conference play on a positive note here Thursday night in a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-17) volleyball triumph over the Menominee Maroons.

Esky trailed in all three sets but led 12-7 in the finale following a block by junior Mari Bink.

Bink then served for six straight points, including an ace for an 18-7 advantage.

Menominee climbed within 20-15 on an Esky hitting error before the Eskymos secured the decision with a 7-2 run.

“This was a learning match for us,” said Esky coach Adam Lambert. “Their kids didn’t quit. Sarah (coach Betzinger) has been in the business for more than 20 years. She’s a good coach. Mari’s service run was huge. This is a good start for us (in the GNC).”

Esky, which was coming off runner-up finishes in tournaments at Kingsford and downstate Cadillac, trailed 5-2 in the third set.

The Eskymos responded with a 5-0 run for a 7-5 lead before a hitting miscue gave the Maroons (1-3 overall, 1-2 GNC) a sideout.

Esky extended its lead to 11-6 on a kill by senior Bailey Barron prior to committing a service error, setting the stage for Bink’s kill and six-point run.

“Our girls played hard,” said Betzinger. “We’re working together better in longer stretches. Only, we have to move our feet more. Their big run in the end really hurt us. We can play better than that. I think the girls are starting to see they have to practice harder. The more comfortable they feel out there, the more we can rotate players and keep that intensity. It’s all about adding depth to our team.”

An Esky passing miscue gave the Maroons a 3-2 lead in the opener.

Following a Menominee service error, the Eskymos surged to a 7-3 lead on back-to-back kills by junior Katelyn Stalboerger.

Esky extended its lead to 21-11 on an ace by sophomore Aleaha Lambert.

The Eskymos then committed a hitting error, and the Maroons trimmed their deficit to 21-14 on back-to-back aces by senior Jaelyn Van Beek.

Esky then all but secured the first set on an ace by Stalboerger for a 24-15 advantage.

Menominee led 15-11 following an Esky two-hit violation in the second before a series of miscues enabled the Eskymos to tie the score.

A pair of Esky miscues gave the Maroons a 17-15 lead before a kill by Stalboerger gave the Eskymos a sideout.

Stalboerger then hit three straight aces in a four-point run, sending Esky ahead to stay at 20-17.

“Katelyn played a real good match, and Mya (Whitson) did some good things,” said coach Lambert. “We asked Grayson (LaMarche) to just play her game, and she did a pretty good job.”

Stalboerger finished with five aces and 11 kills. Bink added three aces and 10 kills, and LaMarche had seven kills. Aleaha Lambert collected 12 assists, and senior Abigail Rexford had eight digs.

Menominee senior Kayla Drifka tallied 10 assists, and Van Beek had seven.

“I thought Laura Magrane had a fabulous match, and Piper (Monroe) played well for us,” said Betzinger. “Every match we’re seeing improvement. We can’t ask for more than that.”

Esky, which won the JV and freshman matches in two sets, travels to Kingsford Tuesday. Menominee hosts Marinette and Peshtigo Tuesday.

“Kingsford has a great program,” said coach Lambert. “That will be a good test for us.”

Escanaba — Stalboerger (five aces, 11 kills); Bink (three aces, 10 kills); LaMarche (seven kills); Lambert (12 assists); Rexford (eight digs).

Menominee — Van Beek (two aces, seven assists); Drifka (one ace, 10 assists); L. Magrane (one ace, one kill); Monroe (three kills).


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