Niles wrap up SMAC regular season with a sweep

BATTLE CREEK — Visiting Niles wrapped up its SMAC regular season with a sweep of Battle Creek Central Wednesday night.

The Vikings (20-17-4) defeated the Bearcats 25-15, 25-17 and 25-15. Niles will now set its sights on the St. Joseph Invitational on Saturday.

The Vikings will then compete in the SMAC Tournament at Battle Creek Central Nov. 2 before making the short trip over to Buchanan to open up Division 2 district volleyball play on Nov. 4 where it will face Dowagiac.

The match is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., with the winning team advancing to the semifinals against defending district champion Edwardsburg at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Niles coach Jenny Nate was pleased with the way her team played as it prepares for the postseason.

“It is always a great night when you can come away with a sweep, and all 12 players contribute to the win,” she said. “We are still nursing a couple ankle injuries, so it was integral for all of our hitters to produce kills and balance out the scoring throughout our offense. They all got chances to swing tonight, and every player on our team had to do their job and take care of their teammates. Although we did have a better balance, it’s definitely something we have to continue working hard to improve on.”

Nate said her team has plenty of things to work on this weekend in preparation for the league and district tournaments.

“It’s not good enough to just put the ball in play, especially considering the competition we face,” she said. “Our attackers have to be strategic and able to consistently get kills at all times against any team. I’m pleased with the win, but I also want our entire team to continue to dig deep, work to play faster, communicate better, be self-disciplined, do the little things right, and keep improving as a unit every day.

“After tonight, they were able to see what they did well and also know what to go to practice ready to work on in preparation for the St. Joe Tournament Saturday.”

NILES 3, BATTLE CREEK CENTRAL 0

At Battle Creek

Match results

Niles d. Battle Creek Central 25-15,

25-17, 25-15.

Individual statistics

Leading scorers

Emma Beckman 17 points, 3 aces; Bianca Pickens 9 points, 1 ace; Cadence Knight 6 points, 1 ace; Nikki Nate 5 points, 1 ace; Zoie Appleberry 3 points; Grace Florkowski 3 points

Kills

Taylor Bailey 12; Marika Ruppart 8; Nate 6; Amara Palmer 3; Jillian Bruckner 3; Appleberry 2

Blocks

Ruppart 1

Digs

Pickens 9; Knight 6; Nate 5; Florkowski 5; Bailey 4; Appleberry 3; Aara Palmer 2

Assists

Florkowski 17, Beckman 13

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