Chieftains, Vikings have rough outing

PORTAGE — Neither Dowagiac or Niles had a good day at the Portage Invitational on Saturday as both posted losing records.

But that does not mean the experience gained while playing against tough competition will not pay off down the road somewhere.

For the Chieftains, who went 1-2-1 on the day, playing defending Class C state champion Bronson tough in the second round should give the team some confidence. Beating Wolverine Conference foe Paw Paw for the second time in three days should also be a confidence builder.

Dowagiac split with St. Johns 25-21 and 10-25 before falling to Bronson 25-23 and 27-25. The Chieftains defeated Paw Paw 25-19 and 25-14before losing to host Portage Northern 25-19 and 25-13.

Complete individual statistics can be found in the Daily Data section on page 7.

Dowagiac returns to action Thursday as it travels to Plainwell for a Wolverine Conference match.

Niles, meanwhile, had to once again overcome adversity due to injury.

The Vikings lost middle hitter Marika Ruppart to an ankle sprain early in the first match against Vicksburg, which they split 16-25 and 25-22.

Two more minor injuries forced veteran coach Jenny Nate to go deep into her bench, which forced multiple players to play out of position.

“Even though we train as a team to be able to cover all positions daily, it really threw our playoff,” she said. “Just as we were trying to get in a groove, we dealt with two more minute injuries that forced us to dig deep as a team.”

Niles split with Wayland 25-15 and 23-25 before falling to Flushing 25-12 and 25-12.

The Vikings would end the day beating Sturgis 25-22 and 25-18 in the quarterfinals before falling to Otsego in the semifinals 26-24 and 25-17.

“During times of tension and adversity, we have to continue to play confidently as a team, make sure we keep our energy and focus on point and take care of our teammates,” Nate said. “I was pleased that once bracket play started, we bounced back and played much stronger. These are often the days we learn the most.”

The Vikings face SMAC powerhouse Portage Central at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Complete individual statistics can be found online at leaderpub.com

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