Niles falls in district opener
Published 10:07 am Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Despite winning 43 matches this season, the Niles volleyball team was unable to get past the opening game of the Class A District Monday night.
The Vikings, who were 43-11-2 during the regular season, was defeated by SMAC West Division rival Portage Central 25-18, 25-18 and 25-21.
Niles had defeated the Mustangs 3-1 in their SMAC West match-up, but was defeated by Portage Central at the SMAC Tournament Saturday.
The Mustangs used a 17-6 run to win the first set and an 18-8 run to take the second set as they put the Vikings’ back against the wall.
Portage Central raced out to an 8-3 lead in the third and final set and then held off a strong finish by the Vikings to complete the sweep and advance to the semifinals at Niles High School at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Kalamazoo Central.
Mattawan, which defeated St. Joseph 3-1, will face Portage Northern in the first semifinal at 5:30 p.m.
“They were hitting a lot better than the last time we played them,” Niles coach Jenny Nate said. “And they’re great hitters. If our blocks are not right on, they’re going to get through it. Tonight was one of those nights when they were getting through more than we were.”
Niles defeated Portage Central 25-18, 16-25, 25-19 and 25-19 on its way to its first SMAC West Division championship Oct. 21. But a back injury to sophomore Bella Rasler forced Nate into some line-up changes at the SMAC tournament where the Mustangs defeated the Vikings 25-22 and 25-22 in the third place match.
“It made us change our offense a little bit and we sometimes had girls in position they don’t normally play,” Nate said.
While Rasler played in the match Monday night, the Vikings just did not seem to play with the same emotion and fire that it had in beating the Mustangs during the regular season.
Despite the loss, the Vikings finished with a school record of 43-11-2 and its first division championship.
Nate said that her squad has plenty to be proud about.
“I told the girls to refocus on what they’ve accomplished this year for the school, for themselves, for the team and for the community,” she said. “We won a conference championship, which was one of our goals. We made it into the rankings three weeks in a row, which was one of our goals. In the big picture they accomplished a lot and that’s what I want them to walk away with.”
CLASS A VOLLEYBALL
Portage Central d. Niles 25-18, 25-18, 25-21
Devin Jaqua (PC) 16, Rebecca Barnes (PC) 13, Lexi Smith (N) 11, Bella Rasler (N) 8, Ryann Jaqua (PC) 7, Kelsey Barton (N) 5, Jazmin Brann (N) 4
Rebecca Barnes (PC) 3, Mdadie Goodman (PC) 3, Nola Wallace (N) 2, Kelsey Barton (N) 2
Bre Love (N) 16, Kelsey Barton (N) 15, Kaylee Dando (PC) 14, Holly Walker (N) 13, Mikaela Kubiak (PC) 13, Ryann Jaqua (PC) 11, Bella Rasler (N) 9, Carly Barton (N) 7
Mikaela Kubiak (PC) 40, Carly Barton (N) 13, Kelsey Barton (N) 12
MacKenzie Zook (PC) 3
Varsity record: Niles 43-11-2