Lady Rangers fall to Lady ‘Cats, TitansPublished 12:44pm Thursday, September 17, 2009
By STEVE MORRISON
It came right down to the wire every game as the host Brandywine Bobcats, led by Kelsey Prestley’s sizzling slams, held off repeated rallies by the Cassopolis Rangers to win a tightly contested volleyball match on Wednesday, Sept. 9.
Winning by identical scores of 25-22 in all three matches the Bobcats managed to up their Lakeland Conference record to 2-0.
In the first game, Cass took a 3-0 lead on the strength of Jessica Biek’s strong serves.
After Brandywine had narrowed the Cass lead to 6-4, Angela Feathers extended the margin to 10-4 with some excellent service of her own aided by a timely dig by Stephanie Vlasicak. The Rangers increased their advantage to 13-7 with a Biek kill.
Then the momentum started to shift.
A tricky tip by Prestly began a Bobcat rally that included a key slam by Prestly, Lauren Leonard’s four consecutive serves that Cass couldn’t score on and Morgan Smallwood’s key block of a Ranger shot.
With Kaley Jones serving for the ‘Cats, they knotted the score at 19 apiece, and Brandywine took their first lead of the night when Mackenzie Shelton smashed a forehand past the helpless Rangers.
A kill by Jessica Cooper put the Bobcats up 22-20, but two quick tips in a row by Olivia Stewart brought the Rangers right back to 22 all.
A kill, a tip, and another kill by Prestly slammed the door in the faces of the visitors, 25-22.
A block and a shot that barely dribbled over the net were key efforts by Brandywine’s Cooper to start the second contest out with a 4-2 Bobcat lead.
Cass came right back sparked by a tip from Biek to take a 6-5 mount. The score swayed back and forth until deadlocked at 12-12, the Bobcats had another surge.
Propelled by Shelton’s mesmerizing serves, five unanswered points by the Bobcats had them ahead 17-12. Spikes by Leonard and Shelton and a tip by the ever-present Prestly had the ‘Cats on the threshold of victory at 24-19, but three aces in four serves by Biek brought Cass closer at 22-24.
Morgan Smallwood sealed the victory with a solid smash to shut the door again for a Brandywine triumph.
Olivia Stewart’s tip and Kristen Fitzsimon’s ace for the Rangers produced an early 3-3 tie in the third set.
The score was often equal at 5-5, 10-10, 12-12, 13-13, but the Bobcats started to pull away, thanks to a kill by Prestly followed by a great dig from Shelton.
An ace by Prestly paced the hosts to 20-15. Cass just wouldn’t yield. Biek’s ace and a tip by Stewart helped bring the Rangers close at 22-21.
Cooper and Prestly nailed two hard shots to forge a 24-22 Bobcat lead. A serve sent out of bounds by Cass ended the game and the match.
“Definitely not our best play, we struggled. Between game one and game two we had 16 unforced errors. So obviously there are things we need to work on,” summarized Brandywine head coach Nikki Cooper.
Ranger coach Brooke Borsa was reflective of the tough evening.
“We just have a lot of little things we have to work on,” she offered. The Rangers came so near to winning every contest. They appear to be on the road to better things.”
The junior varsity contest was nearly as exciting. Cassopolis took the first game 26-24. Down 18-10, the Rangers came back on the wings of strong service from Reese Ellison and Sheridan Curry to tie at 19 all. A slam and an ace by the Bobcats’ Morgan Antus brought a 24-23 Brandywine advantage, but the Rangers scored three in a row to seal the win.
Game two saw Cass sprint out to an eight to two lead, led largely by the serves of Ellison. Lanisha Brann had the answer for the Bobcats. Serving line drives she helped rally her team to six consecutive points and an eight to eight score.
Again the lead was up for grabs, tied four more times. With Ashley DeJonge serving, the Bobcats went ahead 24-21 and held on for a 25-23 win. Cass led the rubber game 3-1, started by an ace from Devan Hillyer. However, with DeJonge serving five times, the ‘Cats gained the lead at 12-10 and survived for a 17-15 victory.
The Lady Rangers dropped a 3-1 non-conference decision to host Michigan Lutheran on Monday.
The Lady Titans won the match 25-22, 23-25, 25-13 and 29-27.
Biek had nine aces and three kills for Cassopolis, which also got seven kills from Stewart.
“The girls played tough and worked hard during the close games,” Borsa said. “I appreciate the effort the girls gave throughout each match, but coming back when we were down 13 points was one of the high points of the evening.”