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Emeralds outpace Braves, win in straight sets

Gladstone junior Claire Roeske (8) and sophomore Lillie Johnson (12) attempt to block a kill attempt by Manistique junior Clara Cuningham during a match on Aug. 29, 2023 at Gladstone Area High School.

GLADSTONE — For its second match of the 2023 campaign, Gladstone hosted reigning district finalist Manistique for a Great Northern UP conference clash.

Despite a furious rally in the third set, the Braves couldn’t keep up with the Emeralds’ quick pace in a 25-8, 25-15, 25-22 loss Tuesday at Gladstone Area High School.

“The pace of the game is a lot faster than what they are used to,” Gladstone coach Kaitlyn Hardwick said. “We have a really young team this year. They have to understand that (varsity) is faster than the freshman and JV (levels). I think that’s something we have to work on. That split second where we stand and watch. It was our killer today.”

After jumping to a 3-1 lead in set one, Gladstone committed a service error. After the miscue, the Emeralds 8-2 run, featuring a five-point service run from junior Leah Goudreau. After the Braves ended the bleeding thanks to a Manistique error, the home team was unsuccessful in capturing momentum. The Braves committed another service error, this time leading 9-1 Emeralds run en route which led to a 25-8 set win for the visitors.

Trailing set two 5-4 and set at the service line after an Emeralds service miscue, the Braves committed a net violation. From there Manistique opened a 10-5 lead. Back at the service line once again, the Braves committed another error, the Emeralds capitalized by opening a 16-8 advantage. Despite two Emerald’s service errors, Gladstone couldn’t find the next gear, dropping two 25-15.

Manistique opened an 18-12 lead in set three after a Gladstone kill attempt sailed long. The Emeralds began to put too much strength on their swings, giving the Braves breathing room. Within moments, a 20-14 Manistique lead shrank to 22-20, resulting in a timeout to re-gather composure. Gladstone kept the gas pedal to the floor immediately out of the break, tying the frame at 22 all. The Emeralds placed their 23rd point in the middle of the floor and in between four Braves players. Junior Claara Cunningham earned back-to-back points to seal the win for Manistique.

“We’ve been really practicing speeding up our tempo,” Nixon said. “We were able to do that a lot tonight, which was exciting. At times that kind of struggled a bit because we’re trying to do some new things. That’s the beginning of the season for you.”

The two teams play in Manistique on Oct. 16. “I think the next time we play them we will be more prepared.” Hartwick said. “Last year we only earned seven points when we played them in all three games we played (against Manistique). That was an improvement from last year, which is really nice to see.”

While the Emeralds walked out of Gladstone with a three-set win, Nixon saw that this wasn’t the same old Braves volleyball team.

“They’re definitely on the up,” Nixon said of Gladstone. “They definitely look a lot more put together this year. Props to (Hardwick).”

Manistique senior Ella Schuetter led all players with 12 kills and added a block. Senior Danielle Lund earned seven kills, one block and one dig. Senior Emma Jones added five kills, five digs and produced 22 assists. Junior Leah Goudreau led the Emeralds with eight digs and added two kills. Junior Clara Cunningham earned four digs and two kills.

Gladstone junior Claire Roeske earned a team-best four kills, all coming in the third frame. Senior Kennedy Sanville and sophomore Lillie Johnson earned two kills each. Junior Alli Larson earned eight assists. Senior Rylee Gerow earned two aces. Sophomore Maev Hanson earned an ace.

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