Vikings sweep Chieftains to go undefeated in conference play

Published 1:58 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

DOWAGIAC — Visiting Niles capped off an undefeated debut in the Wolverine Conference with a 3-0 sweep of Dowagiac Thursday night.

The Vikings (40-8, 9-0 Wolverine) wrapped up the undisputed league volleyball championship a week earlier, but was not about to take the Chieftains lightly, especially since the two teams could potentially meet in the Division 2 District tournament, which will also be at Dowagiac later in the month.

“We came prepared to finish our conference season undefeated,” said Niles Coach Jenny Nate. “This team knows the importance of having a winning mindset. They do the work, day in and day out, which develops their team trust, confidence, and consistency. Once again, our energy and depth were the catalyst for our sweep.”

Dowagiac (21-13-6, 5-4 Wolverine) had its best shot at taking a set from the Vikings right off the bat. Niles got off to a slow start, but managed to hang on for a 25-22 win. The Vikings completed the sweep by defeating the Chieftains 25-15 and 25-11.

“Early in the first set, one of our six rotation starters felt ill, We made a fast substitution, and we were able to continue to run our offense and maintain our level of play to win the set,” Nate said. “The starter returned later in the second set, other sub-combinations came in at various times, and we continued on with the sweep. That’s what I love about these girls. They all play everywhere at practice so that in match situations, the entire team knows how to win together and always do their jobs despite lineup changes.”

Dowagiac Coach Tony Hooley felt his team did not play up to its potential.

“We were never able to get our offense on track,” he said. “Our ball control took a dip tonight, and Niles did a good job of keeping us on our heels. Even though the performance wasn’t what we had hoped for, it was a great night to honor our four wonderful seniors. Any coach would love to have them on their team, and I am glad we still have a little more time with them yet this season.”

The Chieftains’ four seniors are Riley Stack, Megan Davis, Emma Allen and Khloie Goins.

Dowagiac is off until Oct. 27 when it will host its final regular-season match — The Pink Out Quad.

On Saturday, Niles is back on the court when it travels to Battle Creek for a quad with host Harper Creek, Portage Central and Otsego.