Niles holds off St. Joseph in five sets

Published 8:12 am Thursday, September 5, 2013

Niles' Miranda Baker, left, and Alexandra Smith go up for a block against South Bend St. Joe Wednesday night. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Niles’ Miranda Baker, left, and Alexandra Smith go up for a block against South Bend St. Joe Wednesday night. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

In a volleyball match that feature several momentum swings, Niles senior Miranda Baker made sure her team wouldn’t lose a heartbreaker to South Bend St. Joseph’s.

Baker’s 16th and final kill in game five helped the Vikings outlast the Indians, 19-25, 26-24, 25-18, 26-28, 15-13.

“I just wanted our team to get the last point and hope the ball stays in,” said Baker, who also had nine blocks and three digs.

“She’s been absolutely incredible,” said Niles coach Jenny Nate about Baker. “She’s been a huge team leader on and off the court.”

Game five featured five ties and three lead changes. Baker totaled four kills and a block in the final game.

“We never have doubts,” Baker said. “We always stay positive.”

That attitude helped the Vikings, who improved to 6-3, overcome some rough stretches against the Indians.

After losing the first game, Niles was tied with St. Joseph at 24 in game two and on the brink of having a short night. But the Vikings refused to let the Indians take command of the match. Niles got the final two points in the second game with Kierra Fillwock’s kill giving Niles the lead for good at 25-24.

“The turning point was the excitement,” Nate said. “For us, it’s getting hyped and getting focused on every ball. When we do that no one can stop us. As soon as we let the other team start to control the match and we get quiet that’s when we get down. When we get hyped, are loud, support each other and have fun, we win.”

Niles took the lead for good at 9-8 in game three and eventually prevailed, 25-18, after getting a game-winning service ace Kelsey Barton.

St. Joseph erased a 17-12 deficit in game four and scored the final three points in the game to force a fifth game.

“I looked at our team in the third and fourth game and told them that’s what our conditioning was for,” Nate said. “They spent time in the weight room, on the court, playing beach and working on their verticals. It all showed tonight.”

Niles finished game five with a 7-3 run with Baker’s two kills starting the rally.

“We haven’t quite learned with our new girls and veteran girls how to come together and finish every match,” Nate said. “Tonight, showed me we can close the deal. This is just what we needed. Awesome. That’s my team right there.”

Alexandria Smith added nine kills and Jazminn Brann had five for the Vikings. Brann also totaled eight blocks. Kelsey Barton had 42 assists.

St. Joseph’s got 13 kills from Nicole Francoeur and 11 from Mallorie Kendzicky.


Niles d. South Bend St. Joe 19-25, 26-24, 25-18, 26-28, 15-13


Nicole Francoeur (S) 13, Mallorie Kendzicky (S) 11, MacKenzie Chrapliwy (S) 9, Miranda Baker (N) 16, Alexandria Smith (N) 9, Jazmin Brann (N) 5, Kierra Fillwock (N) 3


Kendzicky (S) 7, Courtney Kruggel (S) 3, Baker (N) 9, Brann (N) 8, Smith (N) 3, Kelsey Barton (N) 3


Chelsea Suppinger (S) 4, Francoeur (S) 5, Barton (N) 3, Margaret Hoff (N) 2


Barton (N) 42


Katlyn Sopczynski (S) 6, Suppinger (S) 4, Chrapliwy (S) 3, Courtney Nixon (N) 5, Hoff (N) 4, Baker (N) 3